An Ottawa court heard testimony Wednesday describing the scene of a violent altercation at Centretown Pub, which left Michael Marcil, better known as drag queen Dixie Landers, with severe injuries.
On May 26, 2007, Marcil received multiple blows to his head that put him in a coma for six weeks, after which he had to be taught how to speak again.
Andrew Ronald Lefebvre, 28, is on trial charged with aggravated assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
In his opening remarks on Monday, Crown Attorney Riad Tallim said that Marcil was injured after Lefebvre allegedly punched Marcil in the head following an altercation between Marcil and Sheri Rand, Lefebvre’s girlfriend — whose front teeth were knocked out.
Wednesday’s proceedings began with the Crown calling Donald Theoret to the stand. Theoret was at Centretown Pub when the incident occurred and testified that he arrived at the pub after midnight. He stated that nothing unusual occurred until he noticed Rand leave the pub and return without shoes on. “I found that to be odd and that’s what got my attention,” Theoret said.
Theoret described the ensuing scene. He said Marcil was sitting on the top stairs of the pub’s entrance when Rand allegedly walked up and slapped him. “She slapped him with the right hand and his glasses flew off,” Theoret said. Screaming and shouting followed — Marcil and Rand tumbled down the stairs onto the patio where they landed on top of each other, said Theoret.
What followed, Theoret said, was a sequence of events that involved Rand screaming “Look at my face, look at my face,” and two men — one later identified as Lefebvre — punching and kicking Marcil as he struggled to pick himself up and find his bearings.
According to Theoret, when Marcil was able to get up, he walked to the stairs and sat down at the top. Lefebvre, after consoling Rand, walked over to Marcil and punched him in the face, four to five times, Theoret said. He added that Marcil had “no time to react.”
Theoret was questioned by Lefebvre’s lawyer, John Hale, who concentrated on details of what was happening at Centretown Pub at the time of the incident — was Theoret aware of any fighting before, who was involved in the fight while Marcil was on the ground, and where was Rand after she left the initial scuffle between herself and Marcil?
Theoret continually repeated that he was not interested in what was going on around him before the incident. He said that when the sequence of events occurred, he became occupied with restraining his boyfriend from becoming involved. He also reiterated that he was unable to remember all the details surrounding the altercation.
After the cross examination, the session was adjourned until the afternoon when Tallim called upon Steven Cody Fairbairn to testify.
Fairbairn, a friend of Rand, met both Rand and Lefebvre at Centretown Pub the evening of May 25 to celebrate his belated birthday. Fairbairn was not witness to the altercation. He spent most of the evening downstairs in the karaoke lounge. Tallim questioned Fairbairn on the group’s alcohol consumption during the evening and drew attention to Fairbairn’s association with Lefebvre.
Tallim related an incident between the two at a straight bar where Lefebvre called Fairbairn a “fag.” Fairbairn said that Lefebvre was a bigger guy and “intimidating to me.” According to Tallim, in Fairbairn’s statement to police the following morning, Fairbairn reiterated that Lefebvre scared him because of his size.
Fairbairn also stated — after reading a transcript of his statement, handed to Fairbairn by the Crown on Monday to help recall the events of three years ago — that Rand had called him the night before, after he had left Centretown Pub to go to the Edge. She was angry at being left behind, said “fuck you” and hung up.
He found out about the altercation when Rand texted him the following day before being questioned by the police.
Fairbairn was then cross-examined by Hale. Fairbairn admitted his friendship with Rand waned after the incident because of backlash from the gay community.
Fairbairn admitted he backed away and that members of the gay community had “pitchforks” in their vehement reaction to Marcil’s beating.
Hale emphasized the possibility that Fairbairn risked being ostracized by the gay community for standing by Rand. Hale said the community was “up in arms over the lack of progress in the investigation.”
Hale ended his questioning with an acknowledgement from Fairbairn that Lefebvre was “not a gay basher.” He also confirmed that when Fairbairn gave his statement to the police, Fairbairn’s comments were made under the assumption that the assault charges were on Rand. You had “no idea they were implicated as assailants,” said Hale.
Tallim then called the final witness, Charles Nadeau, to the stand. Nadeau was at Centretown Pub for Fairbairn’s birthday celebration and met both Lefebvre and Rand for the first time that night.
Tallim showed Nadeau photos from Rand’s camera of the evening — group shots and shots of Lefebvre and Rand being affectionate downstairs at the pub. Tallim quizzed Nadeau if the photos could be, in any way, offensive to the gay patrons of the pub. Nadeau stated that he could not see why people would be disturbed.
Nadeau testified that he left Centretown Pub with Lefebvre and Rand — although Rand walked out the front door a few moments before he and Lefebvre. Nadeau stated that as they walked out of the door, Marcil said “What gives you the right, straight boy, to come into our club and insult gay people downstairs?”
According to Nadeau, after hearing the words he distanced himself from Lefebvre. “Andrew is not a small man and I thought comments like that could have repercussions,” said Nadeau.
When questioned by Tallim, Nadeau reiterated that Andrew was bigger than Marcil and that Marcil’s comment was aggressive. After he attempted to diffuse the situation, Nadeau said he walked to the other side of the patio as he had a hunch that something was going to happen.
Nadeau said that the incident unfolded rapidly and that, three years later, he was unsure of the exact sequence. He recalls seeing a bottle of beer being broken and saw Marcil being punched. According to Nadeau he saw Marcil’s head “bobbing back and forth.”
Nadeau also stated that Rand was hysterical and that he vividly remembers Marcil saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
After seeing both Marcil and Rand on the floor, Nadeau helped Rand up and took her onto the street where they waited until an ambulance came.
The day’s hearing ended with Tallim asking if Nadeau was aware of the animosity with the gay community. Nadeau stated he didn’t know and that he had not been back to Centretown Pub in a while. “It leaves you with a sour taste,” said Nadeau of the incident.
The trial continues on Thursday.