Chris Purdy of the Edmonton Journal reports:
Stefan Conley (photo) was a "ticking time-bomb" who poked a teenaged neighbor in the stomach with a tire iron during a noise dispute six days before he died in a confrontation with other teens on a city bus, court was told today [Thursday, Jan. 4].
Const. Maurice Brodeur testified that when he responded to the noise complaint on Feb. 26, 2006, Conley was running up the stairs of his apartment building at 10505 80th Ave., frantically waving around a chrome tire iron.
Brodeur said Conley, 35, talked about being frustrated with "the youth of today." He said he loved music, and the teen living in the suite below his apartment was playing music he didn't like and he didn't have to listen to it.
"He was very volatile, very irate," Brodeur told the court. "He was in a rage."
Defense lawyer Kent Teskey asked Brodeur if Conley was a "ticking time-bomb" who couldn't control his rage. The officer agreed.
He said he was so concerned about Conley's behaviour that he promised to later return when he could to sit down with both parties to help them resolve their differences.
But the next week, before Brodeur had time to return to the apartment building, he read in a newspaper that Conley died during a fight with other teens on a city bus as it approached South Edmonton Common on March 2.
Four boys — one was 16 and three were 17 at the time of the killing — were charged in youth court with manslaughter.
A preliminary hearing, scheduled to wrap up today [Jan. 4], is being held to determine if their case should go to trial. In a rare move, provincial court Judge Jack Easton agreed the defence could call evidence. He ruled Brodeur's testimony was relevant to the case.
Witnesses on the bus earlier testified Conley started an argument with the teens about the heavy metal band METALLICA. One of the boys had a METALLICA tattoo on his arm. Conley and the boys traded insults.
There are varying versions about what happened next. One witness on the bus said Conley punched one of the boys. Another witness said Conley choked one of the boys against a window. Some witnesses said all the boys punched back in retaliation.
Others said Conley went to grab or punch a boy as he started walking off the bus, and the boy then pushed or punched Conley and he fell to the floor.
Conley died on the bus within minutes. The medical examiner testified a tiny artery at the base of his brain suffered a pinhole tear from a blow to the face or chin. Conley also had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 per cent, which is twice the legal driving limit.
Brodeur said Conley was sober when he investigated the earlier noise complaint.
He testified the teen renting the other suite had six friends over to play Nintendo video games that night. They admitted they had been smoking marijuana.
The teens were scared after Conley poked one of them with the tire iron so they called police, but they didn't want him charged.
Brodeur said he tried to talk to Conley but the man ranted for several minutes.
"He was very irate, raging about the noise, how (police) don't do anything about it, how he was going to handle it himself," said Brodeur. "He did not have the ability to hear. He was in a zone of rage."
When Conley calmed down, Brodeur said he warned him: "You have to be careful these days." He told Conley the seven teens could have attacked him in self-defense, and he could have been charged with assault with a weapon.