A coroner's inquest heard some long-awaited answers surrounding the circumstances that led to the death of Greg Matters when his brother took the stand on Friday.
The Canadian military veteran, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was killed Sept. 10, 2012 when an RCMP emergency response team member shot him twice in the back with an M-16 after he approached a colleague carrying a hatchet.
Had Trevor Matters known what he does now about the psychological trouble his brother had suffered from, it's doubtful he ever would have driven to the home where Greg and his mother were living, the inquest's seven-person jury heard.
But as he started to drive back to his Pineview home during the early morning hours of Sept. 8, 2012 after a few drinks with friends, Trevor said he had an overwhelming urge to drop by the home and tell his mother how much he cared for her, because he had not seen her in some time and an uncle had recently died.
He had no intention of talking to his brother or going into the house, he stressed, after detailing a series of run-ins they had since Greg moved back to Prince George in 2009 following an honorable discharge from the military.
He said he drove up the driveway to her Pinko Road home and when he did not see the white Oldsmobile he thought she still owned, Trevor said he turned around and left.
Lawyer Cameron Ward, representing sister Tracey and mother Lorraine, pressed Trevor Matters on his decision to show up in the driveway unannounced at 3 a.m. as opposed to meeting with his mother in a coffee shop downtown during the day and away from his brother.
"Not having contact with my mother, it hurts, it's not good," he replied and while admitting he had been drinking denied alcohol played a role in his decision.
"I wouldn't say that was why I made the wrong decision to go there," Trevor Matters said. "It wasn't because I was impaired."
As he left and headed along Pinko Road, he saw headlights in his rear view mirror. He had originally intended to cut across a field on the family farm to reach his home but after suspecting his brother was tailing him, thought he should stay on the road.
"Maybe he'd figure out I just wanted to go home," Trevor said.
Instead, Greg used his pickup truck to hit him twice before knocking him into the ditch on Alpine Road with a third strike.
Then he came around to the driver's side window and punched Trevor repeatedly until the owner of a nearby home, who turned out to be an off-duty RCMP officer, Cst. Steven Pelletier, came out to see what was happening.
Even by previous standards, including a time when he had hit Trevor on the back of the head with a flashlight, Greg seemed particularly enraged, the inquest was told.
"The flashlight incident was bad but this one was more rage," Trevor said in response to a question from Attorney General and RCMP lawyer Andrew Kemp.
"I often think about this – I don't know if he would have stopped hitting me if it wasn't for Steve coming out there. I'm not sure, that's a scary thought."
Pelletier was able to separate the two, with Trevor following him to a nearby cabin and Greg going back to his pickup truck. When Pelletier continued onto his house to contact police, Trevor said he decided he better head back to his own home on foot – concerned about his wife given his brother's state – and left the scene.
RCMP got in touch with him a short time later and gave a statement.
Two days later, on the day of Greg's death, Trevor was asked to attend the Prince George RCMP detachment and he showed up at about 3 p.m.
When he was told Greg would not give himself up to police until his brother had been charged, Trevor said he suggested that police charge him with driving an uninsured vehicle, but the idea drew no response.
Instead, he was taken into another room where he provided to police a layout of the home where his brother and mother lived.
He also remembered being asked where the guns used to be stored and seeing police wearing camouflage assembled outside the building, leaving him with the impression that "something bad was going on."
On whether police ever asked if he wanted to pursue charges, Trevor said he did not recall.
But he also said he never lodged a complaint against his brother, just gave a statement, "and that was that."
He left the detachment about an hour later and after checking on some employees working for his painting business, went home to his house in Prince George, and so never saw the command post police had set up near the family's rural property.
When a neighbour in Pineview called to say he heard gunshots, Trevor used a private cellphone number to call one of the RCMP members who also happened to coach his son's football team and was told he did not know what was going on.
But some time later the same member and a higher-ranking officer showed up at the home to tell them what happened to Greg.
He said his mother and sister never fully apprised him of his brother's condition, but he knew something was wrong upon Greg's return to Prince George in the fall of 2009.
"He was off, definitely off," Trevor said.
The situation was exacerbated by an ongoing conflict over how to split up the farmland the two had purchased.
It had previously been owned by their grandparents but was then purchased by a logging company.
After it was cleared, the company agreed to sell it to the brothers.
Trevor said that whenever he tried to talk Greg into settling the matter, he would be rebuffed and on two occasions, they came to blows.
On the first, in October 2009 shortly after Greg had returned to Prince George, Trevor said he was hit in the back of his head three or four times with a flashlight after he thought he had been allowed to enter the house where Greg was living.
Trevor filed a complaint with RCMP but decided against pressing charges after police told him Greg had felt remorseful for his actions.
"But that was the last time I ever remember being in my mom's house," Trevor said.
In May 2011, they got into a scuffle over the land situation with the brothers giving different stories about what happened.
Greg claimed Trevor entered the home and tried to choke him.
Trevor told the inquest he never entered the home, that Greg became agitated and pushed him, and after Trevor pushed back, Greg kneed him in the head.
This time, Trevor did pursue an assault charge but when it landed in court, Greg was acquitted due to a lack of evidence for a criminal conviction.
Greg defended himself, Trevor noted.
"Greg is a very smart man, a really smart man," he commented.
In the interim, a restraining order had been placed against Greg and following the decision to acquit, a peace bond was placed against Trevor.
He said the order was expunged a week or two weeks before he attempted the early-morning visit on Sept. 8, 2012 but was not sure if Greg was ever told.
He also denied Greg's allegation in a 911 call that he had done doughnuts on the property sparking the chase on Sept. 8, 2012, nor did he think the vehicle he was driving, a small Suzuki Samurai, was particularly loud.
Trevor sat in on four days of testimony prior to taking the stand midway through Friday.
Often nervous when he told his story, Trevor said he gained a better understanding of his brother's condition, described as an anxiety disorder, over the time the inquest has gone on.
"I had no idea," he said.
“I knew there were problems, of course.”
He said he never talked to Greg's psychiatrist until his brother's funeral.
The inquest continues Tuesday at the Prince George courthouse starting at 9 a.m.