A sigh of relief could be heard from the Crow Eagle family in a Lethbridge courtroom Thursday.
Justice Joanna Price found 40-year-old Dustin Big Bull guilty of second-degree murder and causing indignity to human remains, in the death of 16-year-old Tregan Crow Eagle.
The youth was found wrapped in a tarp on the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta in July of 2020.
“Today, I felt that justice has been served on the Piikani Nation,” said Dominic Crowshoe, Tregan’s great uncle.
During the trial in September, Big Bull took the stand in his own defence.
Big Bull testified that on the evening of Crow Eagle’s death, he was drinking alcohol at a gathering in Brocket, Alta., when Crow Eagle followed him home.
The accused said he confronted Crow Eagle about damage to his home, and punched the teen in the head until he was unconscious.
Big Bull told the court he then left with his girlfriend, drank more alcohol and smoked crack cocaine before returning home.
It was at that point, Big Bull said, Crow Eagle was outside his home and began walking towards him with a knife in his hand.
Big Bull argued that he pulled out his own knife and stabbed the youth in the neck and torso in self defence.
He then left the youth on the ground and went to bed.
When Big Bull awoke the next morning, he testified to finding Crow Eagle’s body and dragging him into some nearby trees.
In finding him guilty, Justice Price rejected Big Bull’s argument of self-defence, stating that his actions were not reasonable or in the behaviour of a defensive manner.
Big Bull stood up following the resolution and told the Justice he understood and accepted the decision, but stated there were things she overlooked.
He went on to defend his actions of self-defence at which point the Justice interrupted him and encouraged him to speak with his counsel further on the next steps.
Following the hearing, the Crow Eagle family gathered outside the courthouse to express their satisfaction with the ruling.
Jeff Crow Eagle Jr., Tregan’s uncle, stood around loved ones as they reflected on their lost family member.
“He was a big part of our family, taken at such a young age. Never got to grow up to be a man or a father, or an uncle.”
The case returns to court in early January 2024 to set a date for sentencing arguments.
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