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Victim's daughter heard 'click' before stabbing, murder trial told

Crystal (Kristy) Dawn Elk is pictured with her youngest son, Mack McKay, who was six years old at the time of this picture. Elk was stabbed to death in November 2011.

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Crystal (Kristy) Dawn Elk is pictured with her youngest son, Mack McKay, who was six years old at the time of this picture. Elk was stabbed to death in November 2011.

An emotional scene played out in court yesterday as a young woman took the stand and testified before the man accused of killing her mother.

She described how her mother and accused were arguing when she heard a "click" and then witnessed her mom being stabbed.

"She staggered back and said, ‘He stabbed me,’" the woman testified in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench.

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

Wednesday marked the third day of the jury trial.

It featured emotional testimony by Elk’s daughter, who cried at times as she described the stabbing and the minutes that followed.

The woman is 20 years old now, but the Brandon Sun has opted not to name her as she was a 17-year-old youth at the time of her mom’s death in the early morning of Nov. 1, 2011.

The daughter testified how Elk had come home between 11 p.m. and midnight on the evening of Halloween 2011.

She said it was apparent her mom had been drinking — she seemed happy as she set about making porridge for her daughter, who was hungry.

Then came a phone call that changed everything.

Elk said her mother-in-law, Carol McKay, had called. She was crying and complained that her partner, Burnett, had been beating her up.

Elk seemed mad after the call, the daughter said. Elk told the daughter, her boyfriend, and her younger sister they were going to McKay’s to help.

McKay, who is blind and has trouble moving around, lived at 310 Dennis St. with Burnett.

Elk and her three companions walked over and found McKay outside when they arrived.

Elk’s daughter said her mom grabbed a steak knife before leaving home, but her younger sister had the blade in hand when she challenged Burnett, who briefly emerged from his home before returning inside.

The witness said that at some point, she got that knife from her sister and hid it beside the tire of a nearby trailer out of fear of what her mom might do with it.

Court has previously heard how Elk placed a call to police from a neighbouring home at 1:39 a.m.

The situation then escalated as the group waited for police, Elk’s daughter said.

Burnett emerged from the home and was pulling on McKay’s arm as he suggested she go back inside.

Elk got angry, her daughter testified. Another witness previously told court that Elk told Burnett that McKay needed her purse and medication.

The daughter said there was also an exchange of words between her mom and Burnett over a previous fight.

Elk then shoved Burnett, who took a couple of steps back. The daughter then heard a "click," and Burnett grabbed Elk with one hand and stabbed her.

"He stabbed me," Elk said and took a number of steps before she lay on the ground.

Her daughter briefly froze with shock before she went to help her mom, who was trying to speak but couldn’t.

The daughter testified that she ran to a nearby home and told the resident to call an ambulance. She then returned to her mom, took off her jacket and wrapped her mother in it to protect her from the cold.

A police officer previously testified about how she arrived on scene to find the daughter cradling her mother in her arms.

Elk was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:16 am.

The trial continues today, and Crown attorney Jim Ross has said he expects jurors will hear that Burnett barricaded himself in the home after the stabbing.

Jurors will likely hear how the Brandon Police Service Tactical Response Unit was called in around 6:30 a.m., Ross said.

Notably absent at trial has been the identification of the weapon used on Elk, which is believed to have been a knife.

While Elk’s daughter said she saw the stabbing, she couldn’t specify how and with what. Previously, her former boyfriend testified that Burnett had used a folding knife.

Police found the knife that was hidden by the trailer tire. They also found numerous other knives, including a pair of folding knives, inside the home.

Those 10 knives were sent to a lab for forensic testing, but those tests failed to detect blood on them, or any DNA that could be linked to Elk.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 23, 2014

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An emotional scene played out in court yesterday as a young woman took the stand and testified before the man accused of killing her mother.

She described how her mother and accused were arguing when she heard a "click" and then witnessed her mom being stabbed.

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An emotional scene played out in court yesterday as a young woman took the stand and testified before the man accused of killing her mother.

She described how her mother and accused were arguing when she heard a "click" and then witnessed her mom being stabbed.

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