BY KEITH LACEY
A man accused of murdering his neighbour testified his gun went off accidentally when he was about to be assaulted.
Jerry Paiement told a jury Friday the revolver he was holding fired accidentally during a tussle with Mark Houle, 16 months ago.
Paiement has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Houle, 37.
Paiement was the only defence witness called. He told a six-man, five-woman jury the gun accidentally discharged after Houle came running at him after the men had repeatedly exchanged words in the minutes before the shooting.
Houle yelled out several times he wasn?t afraid of any gun Paiement had in his possession and threatened to ?shove it down my ...damn throat?, said Paiement.
?I told him it wasn?t a pellet gun.?
After exchanging words, Houle left a campfire in his father?s backyard on Falconbridge Road in Garson, ran across a neighbour?s yard and directly towards him, said Paiement.
?I knew he was coming at me, I told him ?Mark stop, it?s not a pellet gun? and he said ?I?m coming over to get you??he said ?f?you and came right at me?,? said Paiement.
Houle was only inches away when the gun went off accidentally, he said.
?He was pretty near right on me,? said the frail-looking five-foot-five, 120-pound senior. ?I said stop and my finger got caught in the trigger and I guess it went off and hit him.?
Paiement said he was in shock and decided to go back to his home once Houle?s family members and neighbours attended the scene and chaos erupted.
?I was in shock. I felt bad. I didn?t want to do that,? he said.
Paiement admitted he and Houle had a long-running feud dating back four or five years. The problems related to Houle continually crossing onto his property and then taunting him and being verbally aggressive whenever he complained, said Paiement.
?He started going through my yard,? he said. ?The first time, I very politely told him not to go through my yard and use the sidewalk.?
Their verbal disagreements became more frequent and one day Houle confronted him and told Paiement, ?I?ll make mush out of you?.
This scared him because he was a little man and Houle stood over six feet and weighed more than 200 pounds, said Paiement.
Lawyers will present closing submissions Tuesday morning before Justice Louise Gauthier presents her final charge to the jury. The jury is expected to begin deliberations late Tuesday or first thing Wednesday morning.