Murder-trial jury hears Talbot tell of kicking man

Degrassi actor weeps in court: Murder-trial jury hears Talbot tell of kicking man

By GAY ABBATE
COURTS REPORTER
Thursday, May 27, 2004 – Page A14

A former child actor in the Degrassi TV series broke into tears yesterday as he described how he punched and kicked one of three men he feared were poised to attack him.

But Tyson Talbot, 32, was unable to explain why he kicked Christopher Shelton in the head, leaving an imprint of the sole of his shoe on Mr. Shelton’s face as he lay unmoving on the pavement outside a restaurant at Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue in the early hours of Nov. 30, 2002.

“I don’t know why I kicked him. . . . It was all in the heat of the moment,” Mr. Talbot told the jury at his second-degree murder trial. “It was unintentional and accidental, 100 per cent.”

The kick came after a punch that sent the 23-year-old reeling backward onto the ground, the back of his head striking the concrete. He died a short time later in hospital.

With his lawyer Sid Freeman, Mr. Talbot remained calm, peppering his answers with detailed explanations.

But his frustration rose again and again under Crown prosecutor John Scutt’s aggressive questioning and his repeated demands for details and yes or no answers. “I don’t remember specifics,” Mr. Talbot replied numerous times.

The only witness called by his defence team, Mr. Talbot denied instigating the altercation, saying he was merely defending himself.

“I defended myself, and now I’m on trial for murder. How is that fair?” he asked, his voice quavering.

The tears flowed again as he demonstrated a kick after Mr. Scutt suggested he had used a great deal of force.

“Do you think I’m proud?” he asked Mr. Scutt. “Do you think I’m happy to appear in front of a jury, here in front of my family and the Shelton family?”

As he spoke, Mr. Shelton’s mother and another relative ran from the courtroom. Family members who remained dabbed at their eyes.

Family and friends of the Sheltons have been in court daily since the trial began 1 weeks ago. So has Mr. Talbot’s family.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Talbot was athlete Billy Martin in the Kids of Degrassi Street, the first in the TV series. He went on to play Jason Cox on Degrassi Junior High but quit the successful CBC series after three episodes.

Mr. Talbot spoke of his encounter with three men as he left a restaurant where he and two women were dining. Feeling unwell, he said, he went outside where the men, all strangers, swore at him.

“F . . . ,what’s your problem?” Mr. Talbot said he asked Trevor Mitchell, 23.

“Think you’re tough?” came the reply.

Mr. Talbot asked: “What are you going to do, jump me?”

Mr. Talbot said the three men, all taller and bigger than he is, came near but did not lay a finger on him. Witnesses have testified that Mr. Mitchell put up his hands in a defence posture as Mr. Talbot allegedly took a boxer stance.

Mr. Talbot said that when Mr. Mitchell rushed him, he lashed out, his closed fist striking Mr. Shelton, who was closest to him. With the man down, Mr. Talbot fled in a taxi.

But Mr. Scutt suggested that Mr. Talbot was the aggressor, not the victim. Mr. Talbot lashed out at Mr. Shelton because he was angry over remarks Mr. Shelton had made about the two women Mr. Talbot was with, Mr. Scutt said.

A pathologist has testified that Mr. Shelton died from complications from the blow to his head, which fractured his skull and caused swelling in his brain, and that the kick to the head aggravated the condition.

The evidence part of the trial wrapped up yesterday. Closing submissions are set for Wednesday, with the jury to begin its deliberations the next day.

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