Three people who were with 22-year-old Crystal Andrews of Gods Lake Narrows on the last night she was seen alive testified in a Thompson courtroom Jan. 8 during the first day of the trial of Michael William Okemow, who is charged with second-degree murder for her death.
Okemow was arrested and charged in March 2018, more than two years after Andrews died from injuries sustained during a serious assault while walking home from a party in early November 2015.
Terry White, who was engaged to Andrews and living with her at the time of her death, said she didn’t know Okemow, who sometimes gave people rides around town in his grey SUV as one of the remote community’s informal taxi drivers. White and Andrews went to a social on the night of Nov. 7, 2015 and then he went home alone because she wanted to continue drinking. White said Andrews phoned him around 4 a.m. and again just before 6 a.m. from the house where a party was happening and that he started to become concerned a couple hours after the second phone call because she hadn’t returned home after telling him she was leaving to walk back.
“That’s when I started to get a little worried,” said White, who didn’t find out until the RCMP told him a few days later that Andrews had been found dead. White also testified that he told police he had seen Wallace Anderson, another one of the community’s taxi drivers, cleaning out his truck a few days after Andrews went missing, which he thought was odd at the time.
The next person to take the stand was Beverly Nazzie, who also goes by the last name Wood, who said that she invited Andrews into her house, which was close to the hall where the social was held, around midnight Nov. 8 and that they drank vodka before she walked with Andrews to the home of Tessa Brightnose. That occurred after Brightnose, who was Andrews’s best friend, phoned Nazzie’s house to tell Crystal to come meet her.
After she arrived at Brightnose’s house, Andrews accompanied her best friend and some other people to a house party before leaving around 6 a.m. Brightnose and the others hired Anderson to give them a ride home but Andrews refused to go with them because of a personal dispute with the driver. That refusal led to a shoving match with Brightnose.
“She stormed off,” Brightnose said. The group passed Andrews on the main road in Gods Lake Narrows and asked her to get into the vehicle, but she refused once again.
“She wouldn’t listen to me,” said Brightnose.
Okemow’s trial is set to wrap up by Jan. 20 at the latest and the verdict is due to be delivered by Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin in Gods Lake Narrows Jan. 24.