Jesse Lewis was so frightened of Bernard Mason that he kept a sawed-off shotgun under his bed for protection, Lewis's former girlfriend told the court Thursday.
There were times the now 21-year-old Lewis wouldn't stay in his home overnight, for fear that Mason, who lived nearby, would attack him, she said.
"Jesse saw Bern fight before and hurt people. Because that's what Bern was like," the woman testified in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's. "Jesse was afraid of Bern. Bern used that to his advantage. He taunted Jesse.”
Lewis is on trial for shooting Mason in the leg during an altercation in Avondale in April of last year.
The woman, who was Lewis's girlfriend at the time but had been involved in a sexual relationship with Mason at one point, told the court she had just turned 18.
Under questioning by prosecutor Mike Murray, she told the court she had been driving in the community that evening, speaking to Lewis on the phone while on her way to his house, and she hadn't spoken to Mason in months.
The woman said moments later a truck came up behind her car, flashing its lights to try to signal for her to pull over. Lewis was still on the phone, she said, and when she realized it was Mason in the truck, she pulled into the parking lot of a local bar to see what he wanted. Mason pulled in next to her, and he was drunk, she testified. She said she told him he shouldn't be driving, but he shrugged off the suggestion. He wanted her to go to his house, the woman testified, but she declined.
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A little further down the road, Mason and the woman met again in a school parking lot, and she said she told him once again he was too drunk to drive and should go home. When Mason left, the woman said, she told Lewis she was afraid to come to his house. She was worried Mason would follow her there, she said, and she knew the two men had argued in the past.
By the time the woman pulled up in front of Lewis's house, Lewis was standing in the doorway, she said, but he was looking past her car at something else: Mason was walking toward the home, fists clenched, arms swinging and shouting.
"I got out of the car and tried to stop him from going into the house," she testified, but she was too late.
Mason went inside and she followed. Lewis was in the kitchen with two other people — a man and a male youth — and they were telling Mason to leave.
Mason told them he was "going to end this once and for all," the woman said.
The woman said she tried to block Mason from getting to Lewis, but Mason grabbed her wrists enough to hurt her. When she screamed, he let go and proceeded to smash his head into a kitchen cupboard until his face was bleeding. At that point, Lewis and the other two males went outside, and she tried to calm Mason down and get him to leave. In an effort to appeal to his empathetic side, she told him to think of his young son, but it had no effect, she said.
"I never saw Bern act that way before. It was really scary," the woman said. "He had a lot of blood coming from his nose and the cupboards were just destroyed. That was the beginning of the end, there was no talking to him after that."
The woman said that when Mason couldn't get past her to go outside, he tried to go through the wall instead, damaging the gyproc and splattering his blood. He then went out a side door and she followed, she said.
Lewis had the sawed-off shotgun in his hand at that point, holding it down by his side, the young woman testifed. She said Lewis continued to tell Mason to leave, and Mason grabbed a garbage can from the porch and raised it above his head like he was about to hit Lewis with it, screaming all the while.
"You thought Bern was going to kill Jesse, didn't you?" defence lawyer Mark Gruchy asked the woman on cross-examination.
"At the time, yes," she replied.
Mason tumbled down the steps, landing on his face, the woman said. She saw him start to get up off the ground and then she heard a shot. She saw Mason bleeding from his leg, she said, and then Lewis called out to a neighbour to phone an ambulance.
The woman said she, Lewis and the other two male all piled into her car and left, making it as far as Terra Nova before deciding to turn around.
"We were being chased by the cops," the woman explained.
RCMP officers stopped the vehicle near the Whitbourne turnoff using a spike belt, and charged Lewis with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, careless use of a firearm, driving while disqualified, and breaching court orders. Lewis, who had just been released from custody a day earlier, has a long criminal record with a history of fleeing police, the court heard.
Mason, who testified earlier in the week, told the court he required two surgeries to repair his leg, and shotgun pellets still sometimes work their way out through his skin.
Murray rested his case after the woman's testimony Thursday, turning the trial over to Gruchy. Proceedings will continue Friday morning.