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Distraught woman cradled victim in alley

Crystal (Kristy) Dawn Elk, 37, was found stabbed to death on Nov. 1, 2011.

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Crystal (Kristy) Dawn Elk, 37, was found stabbed to death on Nov. 1, 2011. (SUBMITTED)

A police officer who responded to a fatal stabbing has described the sad scene she found.

A young woman was on the ground in a back alley as she cradled the dying woman in her arms.

"She was sobbing and crying and yelling," Brandon Police Service Staff Sgt. Gay Jones testified in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench on Tuesday.

Cameron Douglas Burnett, 53, is on trial for second-degree murder in relation to the death of 37-year-old Crystal (Kristy) Dawn Elk.

The jury trial began on Monday when court heard that Elk died from being stabbed in the heart.

The trial continued on Tuesday and included Jones’ description of the scene. Her account corresponded with evidence jurors heard as the trial began on Monday.

They’d heard that Elk had called the BPS to 310 Dennis St. around 1:39 a.m on Nov. 1, 2011, to ask for help retrieving her mother-in-law’s purse.

Burnett and Elk’s mother-in-law, Carol McKay, lived at the home. Elk, who was calling from a neighbouring residence, said the couple had been fighting and Burnett had kicked McKay out of the home.

Jones testified that original call was given a low priority, to be dispatched as officers were available.

It was a busy Halloween night and, despite her high rank, Jones attended herself. She was dispatched to that call at 1:57 a.m.

Jones said calls are dispatched according to a priority given when they’re entered into a computer. Priority, however, can be overridden and moved up or down.

Court also previously heard that a neighbour in 308 Dennis St. then called 911 at 1:54 a.m to request an ambulance as someone had collapsed in the back lane.

Jones said she received a second dispatch at 2:01 a.m. — a report that there was possibly a body lying behind that address. She said she was already on her way to the area, and switched on her lights and sirens.

Jones and another officer arrived at the scene at 2:02 a.m.

She said she could hear someone in the back alley and could see people between two parked vehicles.

They turned out to include a teenage girl on the ground, holding Elk in her arms.

"He stabbed her!" the girl screamed as a young man who stood over them offered Elk comfort.

Jones supplied a name that suggests the girl who held Elk in her arms was one of her daughters. But Jones was uncertain, and the girl’s identity hasn’t been confirmed by further testimony yet.

A Brandon firefighter/ paramedic also testified as to how she arrived shortly after police, and found Elk collapsed near the back end of a parked car.

Elk had a wound to her chest, and she was barely breathing and barely had a pulse.

She was taken to Brandon hospital, where she was noted to be unconscious and had no pulse. An attempt at cardiopulmonary resuscitation failed, and Elk was pronounced dead at 2:16 a.m.

Elk’s 17-year-old daughter and the then-boyfriend of another daughter also took the stand on Tuesday.

They were youths at the time and the Brandon Sun has chosen not to name them.

They were at Elk’s Brandon home when she received one or two phone calls and suggested a trip to McKay’s home.

Court previously heard that McKay’s brother in Edmonton had asked Elk to check on his sister because she’d called him to say she was in an argument with Burnett.

Elk, her two daughters and the boyfriend then walked or ran to McKay’s.

Elk’s daughter described how they took a knife at her mom’s suggestion, but the boyfriend said it was later hidden beside the tire of a trailer in the alley behind McKay’s home because they didn’t believe it was needed.

They described meeting McKay outside the residence, and the boyfriend described how Elk went to a neighbouring home to call police because McKay wanted Burnett out of the house.

He said it was while the group was waiting for police that a man — who he identified as Burnett by pointing to him in court — confronted Elk in the alley.

Elk told Burnett that McKay wanted her purse and medication. The young man testified that Burnett wasn’t happy when he asked the group if they’d called police and was told yes.

He said Burnett told them: "I’ll give you guys something to talk about."

Elk then pointed her finger in Burnett’s face, as she added that McKay wanted him out of the house.

The witness said Burnett stepped back, took a folding knife out of his pocket and unfolded it.

Burnett then stepped forward and swung it at Elk and connected with her near the shoulder, just beneath the collar bone.

Burnett then folded the knife and put it away, the witness said.

Elk, meanwhile, exclaimed: "Look what he did to me ... I’m bleeding!"

The young man said he helped Elk as she turned to walk away down the alley but she collapsed.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Norm Sims questioned the man’s ability to identify Burnett as the one who had confronted Elk in the alley and struck the blow with the knife.

Sims suggested it would be tough to see anything other than the lower portion of the man’s face — the witness said the man was wearing a baseball cap, and was lit in the night by a light on a nearby garage.

The witness had admitted he hadn’t met Burnett before the incident and had only seen him in court since.

He seemed to agree when Sims suggested the only reason he’d pointed to Burnett as the man who struck Elk with the knife is because Burnett was seated in the dock.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 22, 2014

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A police officer who responded to a fatal stabbing has described the sad scene she found.

A young woman was on the ground in a back alley as she cradled the dying woman in her arms.

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A police officer who responded to a fatal stabbing has described the sad scene she found.

A young woman was on the ground in a back alley as she cradled the dying woman in her arms.

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