In one version of the story, what happened at Duggan Community Hall that night was a plot that ended with a man being “executed” as he lay wounded on the floor.
In the other, it was a fight that got out of hand, with one accused acting in self-defence and the other so drunk he could not have meant to fire four shots at the victim’s head.
Closing arguments were heard Thursday and Friday in the second-degree murder trial of Christopher Wilson and Abdullahi Yalahow, who are accused of murdering Hamza Mohamed at a party Aug. 29, 2021.
Jurors have heard multiple weeks of testimony about the killing and viewed extensive, often bloody CCTV footage from the hall’s cameras. They will begin deliberating after a formal instruction from Court of King’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil next week.
Prosecutors say the shooting began when a third accused — Alinur Mohamed Mussa, who faces trial next year on manslaughter charges — opened fire on Mohamed in the crowded hall. Mohamed was hit in the spine and fell to the ground as terrified partygoers stampeded from the building.
Yalahow then exited the hall through a side door and re-entered through the main entrance. He approached Mohamed and fired a round from his handgun, the Crown says. He tried to fire a second time but was thwarted when a security guard swatted the gun away.
Mohamed then pulled out his own handgun and shot Yalahow, causing him to fall back into the hallway. The two injured men fired at one another until Wilson circled behind Mohamed, struck him in the head and took his gun.
Wilson then called out to Yalahow, who shouted back, “Yo, hit him, grease him.” Wilson fired three rounds into Mohamed’s skull, killing him instantly.
Dino Bottos, Wilson’s lawyer, said his client admits to firing the shots that killed Mohamed. However, he told jurors what matters for a murder conviction is “what was going through Christopher Wilson’s mind” at the time he pulled the trigger. Over two days of testimony and cross-examination, Wilson said he has no memory between buying a snack for his friends and waking up in a police cell. He said he recalls drinking nine beers, multiple shots and 24 oz. of Hennessy before blacking out.
Zachary Al-Khatib, Yalahow’s lawyer, said the Crown’s case against his client hinges on the words “hit him, grease him.” He denied the exclamation was a straightforward instruction to kill Mohamed. Slang is imprecise and people often say things they don’t intend during emotional moments, he said. Even if the words were an instruction, Al-Khatib said Wilson was likely already pulling the trigger, telling jurors the first shot came “one-tenth of a second after Mr. Yalahow yells.”
Al-Khatib argued the Crown’s theory — that there was a plot to kill Mohamed — is far-fetched. He said it is more likely that Yalahow was carrying a gun not because he wanted to kill Mohamed, but because he himself had previously been shot.
“An attempt had been made on his life,” Al-Khatib said. “He had a gun to protect himself from people who wanted to kill him.”
Al-Khatib said the simplest explanation for the shooting is that a fight between Mohamed and Mussa got out of control.
‘Executing a man’
Crown prosecutor Thomas O’Leary said jurors should have no doubt what happened that night was murder.
He noted the only people in the CCTV footage who appear calm when the gunfire breaks out are the accused men and their associates, including a woman the Crown alleges lured Mohamed to the party.
“There is no question the accused were the aggressors,” O’Leary said. He urged jurors to dismiss claims Yalahow and Wilson acted in self-defence. “They were not justified in executing a man who had been disarmed. It’s as simple as that.”
O’Leary said CCTV captured Yalahow leaving the hall just before the shooting, re-entering without going through security and giving an associate a thumb’s up. Wilson, meanwhile, is seen throughout performing complex tasks with good co-ordination and balance.
He urged jurors to reject Wilson’s evidence in its entirety, saying he is exaggerating the amount he had to drink. He said it is unusual that Wilson can remember the exact brands and number of drinks he had before blacking out, but cannot recall repeatedly pistol whipping Mohamed’s body or repeatedly telling Yalahow, “Yo, I shot that guy.”
Belzil is expected to instruct the jury Wednesday.