Peter Khill’s third murder trial in the shooting death of Jon Styres began in Hamilton on Monday
When Peter Khill woke up to hearing gunshots outside his home around 3 a.m. on February 4, 2016, Crown prosecutor Sean Doherty said Monday: « He went to get his shotgun, not his phone to call 911. »
Peter Khill’s third trial began Monday in Hamilton. He is charged with murder in the 2016 shooting death of Jon Styres, a 29-year-old Six Nations of the Grand River man. Khill was found not guilty of second-degree murder following a 12-day trial in June 2018. After an appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada last October ordered a new trial. That second trial began last Tuesday but ended in a mistrial a day later after one juror was dismissed for conflict of interest and another left for a family emergency.
Doherty told the Ontario Superior Court on Monday that « Jonathan Styres lost his life at the hands of Peter Khill to a van – an old van. Peter Khill’s old van. Now it’s true that Mr. « Styres was trying to steal that truck. He was wrong to do that, no doubt. But it’s our position, which provided no justification for Mr. Khill to shoot and kill him. »
The Crown presented evidence that Styres used a screwdriver to « punch through » the passenger side latch on the truck. DNA found on three screwdrivers near the passenger door matched Styres. Photos taken from the crime scene showed the center console of the truck was ajar and $47.31 in dollars, toonies and loose change were strewn around the open passenger side door.
Doherty said Melinda Benko, Khill’s partner, woke up to the sound of beatings and woke Khill up. Doherty said Khill saw the lights on inside his truck and went to confront Styres.
« Moments later Styres was dead, lying on his back in the mud in Khill’s driveway, » he said.
Police were called after Styres was shot, the court heard.
Responding officer listens to 911 call after firing
Doherty called Const. Jeffery Hahn, the officer who responded the night of the shooting, as a witness.
Hahn described Khill’s courtyard as « very, very, very dark », with only a small amount of light coming from the porch.
When calling 911, Hahn arrives first on the scene.
“Police, where is the weapon? Hahn asks in the recording.
Khill responds by saying it’s in the back hallway of his house.
» Police. Where is the guy? Hahn asks.
Khill shows the officer where Styres is lying and says, « He has no pulse. »
Hahn twice asks Khill to back off.
Hahn tells the court that he started performing CPR on Styres and located a very large wound on Styres’ upper left chest.
He said he found Styres lying on his back and did not turn or move him, but opened his shirt to see the injury and perform CPR.
Khill asked Hahn if he could put his shoes on, saying, « My feet are fucking frozen. »
Hahn says no.
In court, Hahn said he wanted Styres to stay in sight and not go inside where the gun was.
Hahn is heard on the tape saying, « Get that ambulance, ambulance on the spot, » to Khill or another responding officer.
Hahn said he performed CPR until paramedics arrived and intubated Styres, but it was too late to save his life.
Jeffrey Manishen, Khill’s attorney, submitted Khill’s admission of fact – that he admits to shooting Styres, that he shot the gun, and that the gun recovered by police is his gun, as the first piece of evidence.
New evidence presented
Doherty called the former Hamilton police sergeant. Timothy O’Keefe, who was a detective in the forensic identification division at the time, to the witness stand.
Doherty reviewed photos taken at the crime scene by Sgt. Tamara McGillivray a few hours after the shooting.
The photos were tendered as evidence and showed the driveway to Khill’s house on Highway 56, Khill’s van, and the interior of Khill’s house.
The court reviewed photos showing Khill storing ammunition for his Remington 870 shotgun in his bedside cabinet.
Khill left his phone on the same table when he grabbed ammo for his gun the night he killed Styres.
The jury saw a piece of evidence that was missed during Khill’s 2016 trial.
While preparing for trial, O’Keefe found a business card for Blair Blanchard and Stapleton, a Main Street West real estate broker in Hamilton, with « Highway 56 » written on the back.
O’Keefe said he found the business card in the front pocket of Styres’ jacket, although the significance of the card in terms of evidence is unclear.
Another juror was fired on Monday. She told Ontario Superior Court Judge Andrew Goodman she would miss a day of trial in December for her granddaughter’s open-heart surgery, leaving the court with 12 jurors and two alternates.
The jury is made up of eight women and four men