6 min

Trial for assault on drag queen Dixie Landers: Michael Marcil takes the stand

Trial enters fourth day; defendant Andrew Ronald Lefebvre also called to the stand

Michael Marcil as Dixie Landers

Michael Marcil took the stand on the morning of the fourth day of trial after defence council John Hale finished his cross-examination of the Crown’s witness from the previous day, Charles Nadeau.

On May 26, 2007, Marcil received multiple blows to his head during an altercation at Ottawa’s Centretown Pub. The incident left him in a coma, 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 court on Thursday, Hale confirmed with Nadeau that, in his opinion, Lefebvre and Sheri Rand, the defendant’s girlfriend at the time of the incident, showed no signs of animosity towards gay people.

Hale also reiterated that, in Nadeau’s memory, Marcil was the “initial aggressor” and that Marcil’s alleged comment referring to Lefebvre as “straight boy” came out of nowhere.

After the cross-examination, Crown attorney Riad Tallim called Marcil to the stand.

In his opening remarks, Tallim clarified that Marcil was a female impersonator — performing as Dixie Landers for the past 15 years. He questioned Marcil as to why he did not give a statement to the police after the incident. “Because I don’t recall what happened,” said Marcil. Marcil went on to state that he had been in a coma, had suffered brain damage and had to “basically grow up again.”

Tallim again turned to Marcil’s female persona, Dixie Landers. “In Dixie’s mind, she is a star,” said Marcil, before stating that as Dixie Landers, she is known for her fundraising — having raised well over $1 million in Ottawa for various charities. He also stated that Dixie Landers was the recipient of a Capital Xtra Hero Award and was well known in Canada and the United States.

Tallim then asked Marcil about his drag performances. “I know I am nowhere where I used to be,” said Marcil. He then spoke about his comeback performance as Dixie Landers in July 2007. Marcil stated the show was discussed with his doctor and mother as a good way to calm the gay community down as people were on “fire” and had reacted strongly to the alleged assault.

Tallim clarified that Marcil had read comments in newspapers stating he had “smashed a woman.”

“I am hurt to have heard I would do that,” said Marcil. “I have spent part of my life impersonating the best part of women.”

When asked if he had used drugs, Marcil admitted to using cocaine in the past, saying that drugs are prevalent in the performance world — he also stated that Dixie would, but Michael wouldn’t.

The Crown ended its questioning of Marcil by referring to his high alcohol level on the night of the incident and asking if he had any recollection of the evening at Centretown Pub. Marcil stated that he could not recall anything, that he did not binge drink, and Centretown Pub bartenders would have stopped him from drinking excessively.

Hale, Lefebvre’s lawyer, then took to questioning Marcil.

He began by clarifying Marcil’s physical attributes — his height and weight — before and after the incident at Centretown Pub. Hale then turned to the length of time Marcil was hospitalized and, reading from hospital notes, stated Marcil was discharged on June 25, 2007, one month after the incident. He then asked Marcil about his mobility by the end of July 2007.

Marcil stated his walking and balance were affected. “Standing is simple; walking requires balance,” said Marcil.

Hale continued to question Marcil about dates he performed and referred to Marcil’s comments at the preliminary inquiry on Nov 5, 2008. He pointed to the fact that Marcil said he had not performed for two years — yet Marcil had been in performances.

Marcil responded to Hale’s questioning with his definition of a performance that included organizing and arranging performers and “impersonating an artist to the fullest.” Marcil proceeded to state that his performance in July 2007 was not a performance.

When questioned by Hale if he was aware the July performance was the day before the court hearing for Lefebvre and Rand, Marcil replied “this was about the [gay] community — cooling the community down. This was not about anyone else.”

After further questioning Marcil on his character and drug use, Hale prepared to show a video clip and photos of Dixie Landers. The presiding judge intervened, asking why the issue of performing was pertinent to an assault case. After deliberation — while the jury left the room — only a short video was shown.

The clip was from Dixie Landers’ comeback night on July 25, 2007 that highlights drag queen Vicki Lawsuit — who died in 2008 of cancer — and a short clip of Landers lip-synching. In response to Hale’s comments that Marcil was able to perform and lip-synch well, Marcil pointed out that he was not wearing high heels but was barefoot so that he could balance. Marcil said the song was an old one, and he knew it well enough to sing it “backwards and forwards,”

The defence rested after drawing attention to an incident that happened three weeks prior to May 26, 2007. Marcil acknowledged there was an incident involving himself — as Dixie Landers — and another male. Marcil stated that while he was in a drag show performing as Dixie Landers, a man accosted Dixie as she walked between stages. The man was asked two or three times to go away. When he refused, Marcil pushed him out of the way. Police were called and the man was put into the “drunk tank.”

Before the Crown rested its case, Tallim submitted three pieces of evidence. One from the police, stating the blood found in the interior of Centretown Pub — before it was cleaned up — showed the direction of the blood stains moving from outside of the door towards the inside of the bar. The other pieces of evidence were copies of emails sent from two doctors confirming that Marcil’s injuries showed hemorrhaging on the brain, fractures and bruising to the face.

After the Crown had rested, Hale called the defence’s first witness.

Hale called Thomas Hodgson, a forensic toxicologist consultant, as an expert witness. Hodgson spoke of alcohol blood levels and impairment. He was cross-examined by the Crown before Lefebvre was called to the stand.

On initial questioning, Hale established that Lefebvre and Rand were no longer together and that Lefebvre has no previous criminal charges against him.

Hale then turned his attention to the evening of the alleged assault. He established that Lefebvre had a few drinks before coming to Centretown Pub and that he arrived there after midnight and was met by Rand outside. “I didn’t really know where I was going,” said Lefebvre.

Hale noted that Wednesday’s witness, Steven Cody Fairbairn, stated Lefebvre called him a fag. Lefebvre said, “I don’t think I personally made the comment.” He also stated that he had not meant to be hurtful and that the bar they were in — Lonestar — was “hick” and he wanted to protect Fairbairn.

Hale then returned to the night of the alleged assault, focusing on questions regarding the atmosphere of Centretown Pub, the amount of alcohol consumed, when Lefebvre and Rand left and how Lefebvre anticipated getting his car, which he left in the Byward Market after attending a work-related dinner.

When asked if Charles Nadeau, the Crown’s last witness on Wednesday, was giving him a lift, Lefebvre said no. He stated that Nadeau was an old gay “guy who kind of weirded me out.”

Lefebvre stated that he, Rand and Nadeau left at the same time. “I pretty much assumed they were behind me,” said Lefebvre. He continued, stating that Marcil was at the bottom of the stairs, and as Lefebvre came close to him, Marcil said, “Watch what you fucking say.”

Lefebvre continued to describe what he remembered of the incident. He said he assumed he told Marcil to “fuck off” and further assumed that when Rand saw the exchange, she confronted Marcil. According to Lefebvre, “they were engaged in some verbal exchange.”

With Hale’s prompt of what happened next, Lefebvre stated he was calling a taxi when he allegedly saw Marcil hit Rand. “I am certain he had a beer bottle,” said Lefebvre. According to Lefebvre, the next thing he knew Marcil and Rand were on the floor with Marcil on top.

Lefebvre said that upon seeing this he went and tried to loosen Marcil off Rand and delivered two to three successive punches to Marcil. Lefebvre clarified that he was left-handed.

According to Lefebvre, the scene involving Marcil and Rand “looked like a vicious attack” and Marcil was “like a dog with a toy.”

Hale then concentrated his questioning on the events after the alleged incident — Rand being consoled on the road, the ambulance arriving and Lefebvre talking to the police sergeant who arrived on the scene. Lefebvre stated to the sergeant that someone started punching him while he was trying to get that “whack job off my girlfriend.”

Hale then questioned Lefebvre about the morning following the incident, when police showed up at Rand’s door. Hale confirmed that when Lefebvre spoke to the police he was under the impression the police were investigating the assault on Rand and did not suspect that he was in any trouble.

Hale also confirmed that Rand and Lefebvre were both charged a month and a half later.

After Hale’s questioning the court adjourned for the rest of the week. Lefebvre will be cross-examined by Tallim on Monday.