The trial for the murder of a Prince Albert man in the Melfort area, nearly six years ago, is now underway at Prince Albert’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
Susan Saxon took the stand Tuesday to testify against Daniel Smith, who was charged with the second degree murder of Roger Byer on Jan. 20, 2010.
She was in a “difficult” relationship with Smith at the time of the incident.
Saxon told the jury she and Smith had travelled into Saskatoon on Jan. 20, so she could pick up her migraine medication and he could look for truck driving jobs.
While driving, Saxon said Smith and Byer had an angry phone call conversation. They then met on the highway, before venturing off the highway for more privacy.
Saxon said she had no idea at the time why they were meeting.
“Did you bring them?” Byer apparently asked Smith, after they had pulled off the highway.
At this point, Smith showed Byer two handguns he had in the car, unbeknownst to Saxon. She said she’d never seen Smith involved with guns before, and was surprised to see them.
The two trucks then drove a little farther to an abandoned farm yard. Smith’s defense lawyer later called that spot an often used “rendezvous” for Byer and Smith.
Once at the farm yard, all three got out of their trucks. Smith and Byer were on one side of the trucks, and Saxon was on the other. She said she had gotten out of the truck to get some fresh air.
She said she assumed the two of them would test fire the handguns. After two gunshots, she allegedly heard Dyer yell something along the lines of “ow! What the hell?”
At this point, she saw both of them run back toward Byer’s truck.
When Saxon came around the trucks to see what was going on, the scene that apparently greeted her could be described as a Mexican standoff. Byer and Smith had their guns pointed at each other.
Byer was supposedly on one knee with blood on his hands and face, and there was blood on the side of the truck.
At this point Saxon says Smith told Byer to drop the gun. She didn’t know if Byer had dropped the gun or not, but assumed so. She told the jury that Byer had told Smith “Please don’t kill me. I’ll give you the money.”
According to Saxon, at this point Smith told Byer to grab money from his truck and throw it towards Smith’s truck.
Saxon then said Smith told her to take a garbage bag from the back of his truck and put the money in the bag, which she says she did.
She admitted, during the cross-examination, that she had severe tunnel vision at this point, and was “basically completely in shock. I didn’t want to look.”
While putting the bag of money in Smith’s truck, Saxon said she heard the third gunshot.
As she came around the back of the truck, Byer was apparently lying on the ground behind his own truck. She said Byer wasn’t moving, but she knew he was alive because she could hear his “gaspy, rattly breath sounds.”
Saxon then got into Smith’s car at this point, and from the passenger seat she saw Smith standing over Byer, and heard one more gunshot.
Smith allegedly returned to his truck, gave Saxon Byer’s bloody pistol, and drove away, saying “we gotta get outta here.”
The whole altercation allegedly only took 10 minutes, from arriving at the farm yard to driving away.
Saxon said she put the bloody pistol in the centre console after holding onto it for some time, still in shock.
After the incident, and making a stop at the Co-op store in Delisle, where Saxon washed her hands, Smith allegedly drove them down several backroads to another abandoned yard, this one with several old unused wooden buildings.
It was here that Smith dropped off the guns, money and ammunition, according to Saxon.
Smith also smashed Byer’s cellphone, which he had grabbed during the incident, on the road before throwing it into a ditch.
Back home, Saxon said Smith took their clothes, put them in garbage bags, and went to burn them.
Saxon and Smith remained in an on-again, off-again relationship for the next several years.
She said she stayed with Smith because she was scared of him and being charged for her involvement with the murder.
Smith apparently told her that they couldn’t talk about it to anyone and she was an accomplice in the murder.
When asked why she stayed with Smith, she said Smith was very controlling, and told her they were “joined for life” because of the shooting.
In Feb. 2013, police talked to Saxon for the first time. In their first meeting, she admitted to lying to the police out of fear of Smith.
“I’m a mother and I have three children,” she told the jury. “I would never jeopardize them, or do anything to jeopardize my care of them.”
By Nov. 2013, they were no longer living together. Smith, who was controlling their money, had apparently not paid the rent at Saxon’s place, and wanted her and her daughter to move in with him.
At this point, when Smith was in Alberta for work, Saxon borrowed money and moved away. She said she wouldn’t tell Smith where she was, and changed her phone number.
She was next contacted by the police on May 20, 2014.
During their talk, she first told police the lie Smith had told her, but then changed her story after being reassured by police that she would not be charged with the crime.
During the cross-examination, Smith’s defence counsel asked her why the lie she told police had several specific and unneeded details, such as how many stores she visited in Saskatoon that day.
“Surely, he didn’t write you a script,” he asked Saxon.
“Actually he did,” she replied.
Relations between the defence counsel and Saxon were tense during the cross-examination.
“All I’ve done is tell the truth,” Saxon told him.
“We’ll see about that,” he said.
Saxon’s cross-examination continues today.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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