by Tim Petruk
Kamloops This Week
An accused killer wiped away tears in a Kamloops courtroom last week as he recounted the final moments of his friend’s life.
George Ignace, 23, was charged with manslaughter following the death of Gary Moses in December of 2009.
The 30-year-old died as a result of blunt-force trauma, allegedly caused by two punches from Ignace.
In front of a packed courtroom on Friday, Jan. 7, Ignace, the son of former Skeetchestn Indian Band chief Ron Ignace, took the stand in his own defence and said Moses had taunted him about his murdered brother prior to the fatal blow.
He didn’t deny punching Moses – a man he said he’d been friends with for the better part of a decade – but said he was acting out of self-defence and had no intention of seriously hurting him.
According to Ignace, he and Moses were among a group of friends drinking at a home on the Skeetchestn reserve on the afternoon of Dec. 30, 2009.
As the group became more intoxicated, Ignace said, Moses began picking a fight with another friend, Kevin Joe.
Ignace, who was in another room at the time, said it was obvious there was an altercation.
“I could just hear basically them slamming each other around in the kitchen,” he said.
“You just see cups and stuff and something with flour hit the ground. That’s when I decided I should do something about it.”
Ignace said he went into the kitchen and separated the pair – “I had to pry myself between the two,” he said – but Moses and Joe weren’t calming down.
Court heard the two combatants continued to stand and glare at each other and Moses became verbally aggressive toward Joe and Ignace.
“He was just saying he protected me my whole life,” Ignace said.
“He made it sound like an obligation. I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
Ignace said he got up to talk to Moses but, when Moses lunged at him, he “reacted with a jab.”
Court heard the punch hit Moses in the mouth and he fell into a wall and onto the floor.
“I apologized right off the bat,” Ignace said, calling the reaction a “split-second” decision.
“I felt sorry and I was telling him I didn’t want to do that. I apologized to everybody in the room for that happening.”
Ignace said he and Joe then decided to leave.
“Even though we were trying to diffuse the situation, it wasn’t diffusing,” he said.
“We couldn’t do nothing to change Gary’s attitude.”
As Ignace and Joe were preparing to leave, court heard, Moses’ verbal aggression continued.
Ignace said Moses even attempted to block the exit as he left the house through a sliding patio door and then down a flight of stairs off of a deck.
Then, as Ignace was getting into a vehicle to leave, he said, Moses made a comment that required a response.
“He says, ‘Too bad you couldn’t protect your brother,’” Ignace said.
“I put my bag down and went walking toward the balcony and said, ‘F–k you, Gary. Take that back. You have no right to say that.’”
Ignace then began crying in court and grabbed a box of tissues sitting on the edge of the witness stand.
His brother, Gabriel Palmer, was murdered in December of 2002 – seven years to the day of Moses’ death.
Ignace said he didn’t take the remark lightly and went back up the stairs to confront Moses.
“What was your intention in going back towards Gary?” asked defence lawyer Don Campbell.
“Get him to take it back – say he didn’t mean that,” Ignace responded. “It’s a serious comment and a statement to make.”
Ignace said Moses grabbed his arm as he reached the top of the stairs.
“I felt threatened,” he said. “I reacted in a defensive manner and I threw a jab.”
The punch knocked out Moses.
Ignace left and friends placed Moses on a couch in the house’s living room.
They called 911 hours later after someone noticed he was apparently struggling to breathe.
Moses died en route to Royal Inland Hospital.
Ignace’s trial wrapped up on Jan. 11. He will learn his fate on Jan. 26, when a verdict is delivered.