Murder suspect says fatal shooting during botched robbery was accidental

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Wardale, 64, is charged with second-degree murder in Hepher’s death.

He told Iovinelli he only put a single bullet in the .22 calibre handgun he took to rob Hepher in the victim’s northwest basement suite.

“I guess if it was coming down to a fight, or having to use it, it would probably suffice to have one bullet in it,” he explained.

“Did you have any interest of hurting Mr. Hepher?” Iovinelli asked.

“No I did not,” he replied.

Wardale biked about 45 minutes from his Lake Bonavista home, parked his wheels at a nearby A&W and walked the final two blocks to Hepher’s home before donning his mask and entering, he said.

“I just walked in and Paul was sitting there watching TV . . . and he looked up and I gave him some verbal commands. I said: ‘This is a robbery, lay down on the floor and I’m going to tape your hands and your feet,’” Wardale said.

“He wasn’t having any of it.”

Hepher went into “defence mode” and started “growling” at him.

The two men then wrestled, with the accused eventually getting the upper hand and pinning Hepher down by the chest.

However, the victim was able to grab the mask and rip it off his face before grabbing for the gun.

“He grabbed hold of the gun, he was pulling it towards him. He had both his hands on the gun when it went off.”

Wardale said although he had his hand on the trigger, he never cocked the weapon and believed Hepher accidentally cocked it during the struggle.

“Did you intend to kill Mr. Hepher?” Iovinelli asked.

“No I did not,” Wardale said.

He said he quickly checked the suite for money but found none, eventually leaving with a can of beer he found in the fridge.

He’ll be cross-examined Tuesday.

KMartin@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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