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'I was extremely scared for my life': Accused testifies in Windsor murder trial

Superior Court of Justice shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., Nov. 19, 2013. (Melanie Borrelli / CTV Windsor) Superior Court of Justice shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., Nov. 19, 2013. (Melanie Borrelli / CTV Windsor)
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Frederick Leon of Toronto has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder for the death of Jovan Burgher, 30.

He died in hospital on May 21, 2021, four days after being injured in an altercation with Leon in and outside of a home on McEwan Avenue in Windsor.

The jury has learned Burgher died of “complications from multiple facial and scalp lacerations,” also known as cuts or tears.

He suffered “multiple organ system failure,” according to the coroner.

Victim attacked first: Accused

Leon testified in his own defence this week, at the conclusion of the Crown Attorney’s case.

He told the jury his cousin (and co-accused in Burgher’s death) Prince Charles moved to Windsor “a few years” before the incident. Leon says Charles was dealing drugs in the city.

Leon travelled to Windsor from Toronto using a ride sharing app, one day before the incident to start working for Charles.

Leon said the two men ran “errands” which he explained to the jury meant selling drugs: primarily cocaine.

When they arrived at a friend’s home on McEwan, Leon said he was warned not to go inside because there was a fourth man inside whom “they shouldn’t hang out” with.

Leon went in anyways.

He told the jury as soon as he walked into the kitchen the man – who the jury now knows was Burgher – “immediately” got up acting “aggressively”.

“He gets in my face, has his hands out, he said ‘What’s good? What’s good’?” Leon testified. “I was completely thrown off.”

Without warning or provocation, according to Leon, Burgher aimed a gun.

“He (Burgher) pulled out a gun, aimed (it) towards my face and all I heard was a bang,” Leon said. “I lunged towards him to grab the gun and ended up grabbing his arms and I pushed it (the gun) towards the ceiling.”

Leon recalls “spinning” Burgher around towards the fridge, and he believes he head-butted him during their fight.

“We busted through the screen door and ended up on the back deck,” Leon said.

There he recalls both men falling down the back stairs, but Leon couldn’t recall the direction they both landed.

The jury has seen images of multiple blood stains on the back stairs and porch.

“I was doing everything I could to get the gun away from him,” Leon said. “I was extremely scared for my life.”

Crown suggests a different version

On cross-examination Assistant Crown Attorney Iain Skelton questioned various portions of Leon’s story.

The jury has seen a picture of a bullet hole lodged in the backsplash behind the kitchen sink. Skelton asked Leon to explain how the bullet could have been at waist height if the gun was pointed at Leon’s head or the ceiling, as he testified.

“All I could focus on was trying to get the gun from him,” Leon explained.

Skelton also questioned why Leon would go into a stranger’s home after being warned against it and why he would go in without any protection. Leon denies having a knife and holding it to Burgher’s throat.

Skelton: “I’m going to suggest you were striking him (Burgher) with the gun.”

Leon: “No. No, Sir.”

Leon doesn’t recall the kind of gun Burgher allegedly had in his hands, nor could he recall which hand the gun was in.

Skelton: “So you hit him a lot of time on the stairs?”

Leon: “As much as I could to get the gun.”

Skelton also accused Leon of continuing to hit Burgher outside, up against the concrete blocks of the home’s foundation. Leon denies it. He told the jury Burgher fell against the concrete on his own.

Skelton: “I’m going to suggest he (Burgher) was trying to get away from you.”

Leon: “I disagree.”

Evidence concludes

Leon concluded his testimony late Wednesday and the defence did not call anymore evidence.

The jury has been asked to return to Superior court on Tuesday June 4 for closing arguments and potentially the charge to the jury. Deliberations typically being immediately afterwards.

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