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Avondale shooting arose from love triangle, defence alleges

Jesse Lewis (right) speaks with his lawyer, Mark Gruchy, in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Wednesday morning. Lewis is on trial for shooting a man in the leg in Avondale in April 2017.
Jesse Lewis (right) speaks with his lawyer, Mark Gruchy, in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Wednesday morning. Lewis is on trial for shooting a man in the leg in Avondale in April 2017. - Tara Bradbury

A year and a half after he was shot in the knee, Bernard Mason still has shotgun pellets that sometimes find their way out through his skin. He has counted and saved seven of them over the past year or so, and he brought them in an envelope to court in St. John’s Monday.
The pellets were entered as evidence in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in the trial of 21-year-old Jesse Lewis, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, careless use of a firearm, driving while disqualified and breaching court orders in connection with the shooting, on April 21 of last year.
Lewis, Paul Conway, a woman and a male youth were reportedly together at Lewis’s home in Avondale when Mason arrived.
Mason, 33, said he had received a call from Lewis, asking him to “Come over for a minute.” He told the court he went to the door of Lewis’s home, but it was locked. Lewis then came out through another door with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun in his hand, Mason said.
“I told him, ‘You better make it good if you’re going to shoot me,’” Mason testified. “I didn’t even hear a shot, just felt the impact. I fell to the ground.”
Mason said he didn’t remember much else about the incident, other than seeing legs walking past him out of the house. He recalled then having a cigarette, but didn’t remember being taken to hospital in an ambulance or police arriving.

Related story:
Trial for man charged with Avondale shooting gets underway in St. John’s


Mason ended up having two surgeries, including a skin graft, to repair his shattered knee, and said he still has nerve damage, permanent scarring and other issues with it.
Mason showed the court a police photo of a text message he had received, allegedly from Lewis, six months prior to the shooting, saying, “I’m coming to blow your legs off.”
Police say they received a report of a shooting at Lewis’s father’s home around 6 p.m. that day. Lewis, Conway, the woman and the youth reportedly fled the scene in the woman’s car, but were eventually stopped by police on the Trans-Canada Highway near the Whitbourne turnoff.
An RCMP investigator who testified earlier this week said Mason had shown up at Lewis’s home, allegedly putting his head through a kitchen cupboard, breaking it and damaging a wall, before he went outside, where Lewis shot him. Blood samples taken from inside the home and on Mason’s clothing proved to be a match.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Mark Gruchy, Mason said he didn’t remember much of what had happened that day, but was sure he hadn’t entered the home and hadn’t been angry.
“Do you think it’s possible you were in the house and you just don’t remember it, because you had been drinking and perhaps were in shock?” Gruchy asked.
“No. I wasn’t in the house,” Mason replied.
Gruchy questioned Mason about a possible love triangle between himself, Lewis and the woman, who was Lewis’s girlfriend. Mason acknowledged having had sex with the 18-year-old woman in the past, but said they were “just friends” at the time of the shooting.
Gruchy showed Mason a transcript of his testimony at Lewis’s preliminary inquiry, focusing on a statement Mason had made about how he “probably lied” to police about the true nature of his relationship with the woman, because he had a girlfriend.
“I didn’t lie,” Mason countered.

He said he remembered speaking to Lewis’s girlfriend outside a bar earlier in the day, but couldn’t recall if he had been talking with her on the phone.
“What about if I told you I was going to lead some evidence that you were talking to her because you wanted her to go to your house?” Gruchy asked.
“Probably. I don’t recall,” answered Mason.
“I’m going to suggest you wanted (the woman) to go to your house. She didn’t want to go to your house, so you got mad,” Gruchy said.

Mason rejected the idea.
Gruchy questioned Mason about his friendship with the group of teenagers, given he was in his 30s.

Mason said he had “grown up” with Lewis and “kept him out of trouble.”
Earlier on Wednesday, RCMP Const. John Galway took the stand, saying he had taken Mason’s gaps in memory as normal.
“Once you are shot and almost killed, maybe you lose memory. It’s a pretty traumatic event, and people talk about PTSD, to be shot point-blank with a sawed-off shotgun. If the man says he can’t remember, who am I to question?”
Galway said Mason was never charged with mischief for damaging the home, or any other crime, since none of the witnesses agreed to give statements or wanted him charged.
Lewis’s trial continues Thursday, with the female witness expected to take the stand.

Tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com
Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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