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Witness in Ottawa murder case says she was pressured by Crown

A key witness said she was in no condition to be questioned by police due to heavy drinking and trauma from the shooting that left one dead and another wounded at a backyard barbecue.

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A key Crown witness in an Ottawa murder case testified Monday that she was pressured by the Crown to stick to her original drunk testimony to detectives, who were threatened with prosecution for lying to police if she had changed them once sober.

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Jessica Walker said she had been drinking for three days and had little sleep when she was called to Ottawa Police Headquarters for an interview with veteran Det in 2018. Kevin Jacobs in the Tristan Campbell murder case.

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She was not in the right shape to be interviewed due to heavy drinking and trauma from the shootings that left one dead and another injured at a backyard barbecue, the jury heard Monday at Campbell’s second-degree murder trial.

She testified she did not recall going to the police station, let alone what she told the detective in the May 2018 videotaped statement.

In her videotaped statement to police, which was shown to the jury Monday, Walker placed all blame on the defendants.

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Days later and sober, Walker testified, she tried to change her story because she wanted to tell the truth, but a police officer, after speaking with a prosecutor, said it was impossible and would hurt the case.

Walker said she finally told the truth under oath in court on Monday, explaining that she initially lied to police while in a drunken state to protect her friends and falsely blamed Campbell. Instead, she told the court that Campbell was not the attacker and was not the one who made the threats, as she originally told police while in a traumatized state.

In fact, she said that Abdifatah Osman, who was shot in the chest and back of the head, and his friends were the ones who threatened Campbell.

The council housing district of south Ottawa has a long history of vocal arguments. But on May 27, 2018, this feud among neighbors ended with gunshots.

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By the time Campbell finished putting bullets to Patola Private, Osman was dead and Briana Crispin was wounded.

The neighborhood is dense and was full of children that day, but no one was injured by stray bullets entering a home with children. The bullets hit the toy box, her fish tank, and the family couch.

The case is not a criminal case. Campbell, 39, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and admits he shot and killed on the doomed grill after being confronted, spat on and repeatedly subjected to racial slurs.

But Ottawa prosecutors have dismissed the manslaughter charge, charging Campbell with second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

The second attempted murder charge is because Campbell is accused of pointing a gun at Walker, who testified Monday that that was also untrue.

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In cross-examination of defense attorney Mark Ertel’s key witness, Walker said she had not heard from Ottawa police until she was called to a pre-trial meeting. Walker appeared at the December 6, 2022 meeting at the Ottawa Courthouse.

She testified that the Crown and police simply showed her the video of her 2018 statement to refresh her memory of the drunk statement, which she does not recall.

“The Crown wanted you to stick to your story,” Ertel said.

Walker said she wanted to change her story and tell the truth, but that came with the threat of prosecution for giving false evidence to police.

Erkel continued: Did they (the police/Krone) ask her which parts of her testimony were correct or incorrect?

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No, Walker said, adding they only told her to watch the video to refresh her memory in court.

Under cross-examination, Walker also told the jury that after the December 6 meeting at the courthouse, Sgt. Dan Brennan, one of the detectives at the meeting, asked her in the elevator if she had spoken to Campbell’s attorney and warned that doing so would cause problems in the Crown’s case, if it had done so. (She hadn’t.)

Even under threat of prosecution for altering her story, Ertel Walker asked, “You came anyway?”

“Yes, because I wanted to tell the truth,” she testified. “I wanted to come in and say what actually happened when I was level headed.”

Walker testified that the Crown told her it was very wrong to lie under oath and recommended that she hire a lawyer.

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It remains to be seen whether prosecutors will call Brennan and Det. Chris Benson took the stand to disprove part of Walker’s testimony. They were both at the December 6 meeting, the court heard.

When Osman was killed in 2018, his family and friends spoke of his kindness and that he loved his two children.

“He always put other people first and always paid attention to the people around him. He loved his children the most and all children in general,” his longtime friend Mohamed Shire told the newspaper at the time.

“He didn’t deserve to walk this path.”

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