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Gun's safety issues shown at manslaughter trial

The safety mechanism on a rifle is at the centre of a trial for a Quesnel-area man accused of manslaughter.
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The safety mechanism on a rifle is at the centre of a trial for a Quesnel-area man accused of manslaughter.

It was the first day of a trial Monday at the Prince George courthouse for Roger Wayne Evans, 63, who has pleaded not guilty to the count in the Aug. 1, 2018 death of his son Dale Evans, 41. 

North District RCMP Cpl. Devin Huff, who was the lead investigator on the case, pointed out the characteristics of the firearm, a Savage 99C 308 Winchester, during testimony. 

Holding the gun while standing in the witness box, he said the safety is located at the top of the stock just behind the bullet chamber. He said the scope on the gun was an "after-market" addition and blocks the view of the safety when looked at from the top.

During cross examination, he agreed with defence lawyer Jason LeBlond that the mechanism has no "delineation" showing whether it is off or on. According to online videos, the safety is in place when the lever is pulled back.

Huff said he owns another version of the gun on which the safety is on the trigger guard lever on the lower part of the stock. "It's a little notch that moves backwards and forward," he said and later noted a red dot is usually used to help the holder confirm whether it's in place although it tends to wear off.

The trial opened with testimony from the man who found Dale Evans' body.
Jesse Way told the court the father had been renting from him a home in the 6200 block of Nazko Highway. He said the plan was to eventually sell the place to the accused in a "rent-to-purchase" arrangement but that fell through when Evans switched to a new job that took him to other places.

He said Evans was in the process of moving out and, while the two were at a barbecue the evening before, had asked Way if he could bring his backhoe over to load a 300-pound propane tank into the back of his pickup truck.

Way agreed to do so but was waylaid when he was called out early the next morning to deal with a wildfire. Once it was under control, Way said he drove directly to Evans' home to let him know it would be awhile yet before he could help with the tank.

Way said he arrived at the home shortly after 9 a.m. There was no answer when he knocked on the door and when he stuck his head in to ask if anyone was home, there was no answer. Way stepped in and walked through the mud room before seeing Dale Evans lying face down in a large pool of blood on the floor in the home's laundry room. When he felt Dale Evans' neck for a pulse, Way said he was cool to the touch. 

Because Evans' body was blocking the way, Way said he decided against walking further into the house. Instead, he drove to Tibbles Lake, where the gathering was held the night before, and called 911.

Way knew Roger Evans from the two working as truck drivers in the Fort St. John area. While he confirmed that the accused has health issues that limit his ability to get around, Way was unable to comment definitively on Roger Evans' sleep patterns other than to say he could be a "hard sleeper" after a long period of work.

The trial continues Tuesday.