LETHBRIDGE: 51-year old Nicholas Gerard Verwer is a free man, after a jury found him Not guilty on charges of attempted murder and discharging a firearm with intent to wound Friday morning.
Verwer's lawyer Greg White stated that he wasn't suprised by the decision, going on to say that the incident in which 28-year old Derek Kennedy was shot was a "tragic accident".
Verwer had been accused of shooting 28-year old Derek Kennedy in the back August 25th, 2007. Kennedy had been renting a home from Verwer, right next to Verwer's home. The relationship soured and Kennedy was evicted, however he returned when he found out that Verwer put up signs reading "Derek Kennedy Evicted Don't Let Him Take You". That's when the incident is alleged to have happened.
Verwer stated that he was afraid of Kennedy, saying Kennedy had threatened him with violence on numerous occassions and refused to pay rent, saying the rental house was his property. He claimed that on the day in question Kennedy came to his house again making threats.
Verwer testified that the two met outside after Kennedy had ripped one of the signs down. He said that he told Kennedy he was going to call the police and headed for his house, at which point Kennedy followed him. Verwer said that he tried to close the door but Kennedy caught up and was trying to push it open. Verwer went on to say that he had left a loaded rifle in a closet next to the front door to deal with problem animals around his farm. He said that he grabbed it by the barrel and showed it to Kennedy. He claims that Kennedy started to back away so he followed him across the lawn to get him to leave his property.
Verwer stated that at one point Kennedy stopped and faced him, telling him to take a swing. Verwer explained that he swung the end of the rifle, missing Kennedy and hitting a post, which damaged the weapon. He said Kennedy started moving again and he once again followed, however Kennedy then spun around and grabbed the barrel. Verwer commented that he pulled back then pushed forward to try and knock Kennedy off balance and that Kennedy fell to the ground pulling the barrel of the gun with him. It was at that point Verwer testified that the gun "accidentally discharged", hitting Kennedy.
Verwer continued that Kennedy started to crawl away and refused help, saying that he would call for help himself. He said that he then ran back into his house, leaving the rifle leaning against a tree in the yard. He then called 911, saying that he had shot a person by accident.
While Kennedy survived the incident in question, he died last year of unrelated causes.