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Dawson City, Yukon, man accused of 2nd degree murder testifies at trial

Dawson City, Yukon, resident Kane Morgan, who is charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of Kevin Edward McGowan in 2018, leaves court in Dawson last week. Morgan has admitted to committing an unlawful act causing death, but has pleaded not guilty to the charge. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
Dawson City, Yukon, resident Kane Morgan, who is charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of Kevin Edward McGowan in 2018, leaves court in Dawson last week. Morgan has admitted to committing an unlawful act causing death, but has pleaded not guilty to the charge. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

A Dawson City, Yukon, man on trial for second degree murder testified this week that even though he killed Kevin Edward McGowan in 2018, he doesn't remember many details about how it happened.

Kane Morgan, whose jury trial in Dawson began last week, told court that he was heavily intoxicated when McGowan died in the early hours of April 30, 2018, in downtown Dawson.  

Morgan took the stand on Monday and began by apologizing to McGowan's family. Morgan said he doesn't expect the family to ever forgive him, but said he hoped his testimony could provide closure.

Morgan has admitted to causing McGowan's death by blunt-force trauma but he has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder, saying he did not intend to kill McGowan.

Morgan testified that he had first met McGowan, who was originally from Port Coquitlam, B.C., on April 28, 2018, in Dawson.

He said that the two were hanging out the following evening, April 29, and that they had some beers at a bar and a few more by the Yukon River before heading to a house party together.

Morgan said during that time, the two men were getting along. He said he and McGowan seemed to have a lot in common, with similar beliefs, interests in conspiracy theories, and martial arts. Morgan said they instantly hit it off.

Morgan told the court that in addition to drinking, he had also taken magic mushrooms and MDMA that night and he was heavily intoxicated. He said he doesn't remember much of what happened after he and McGowan left the house party later that night.

He told court he had no memory of any altercation with McGowan, who was later found dead on the street.

Morgan said he remembers going back to the house party later, washing up, and going to his home to pack his clothes, all while wondering where McGowan had went.

He said he had a terrible feeling and felt compelled to flee after he and another man saw police and an ambulance at the intersection of Second Avenue and King Street. That's where McGowan's body was found.

The intersection of King Street and Second Avenue in Dawson City. Kevin Edward McGowan's body was discovered here during the early hours April 30, 2018.
The intersection of King Street and Second Avenue in Dawson City. Kevin Edward McGowan's body was discovered here during the early hours April 30, 2018.

The intersection of Second Avenue and King Street in Dawson City. McGowan's body was discovered here during the early hours of April 30, 2018. (Chris MacIntye/CBC)

Morgan said he and the other man then drove to Whitehorse.

Morgan said that once in Whitehorse, it was becoming clear that he was in trouble. He said a friend who picked him up got a phone call and he overheard the voice saying that Morgan should either "go to the police or get out of the Yukon, because Kane killed someone last night."

Morgan said he bought a plane ticket and left on a flight heading to Vancouver later that day.

Morgan explained after a month and a half he returned to the Yukon. He told the jury that he was in denial about the incident up until he was arrested by police in 2021. He said he is still trying to put the pieces together of what really happened that night.

Morgan told court that he couldn't think of anything McGowan could have done to provoke the attack that killed him.

He said in the state of intoxication he was in that night, McGowan could have been anyone.

The Crown then cross-examined Morgan and asked him to recount the events he actually remembers from that night, rather than than what he's been told or what he "believes" might have happened.

The Crown also questioned statements Morgan had provided earlier to a forensic psychologist about the amount of drugs and alcohol he may have taken that day, compared to what he told court on Monday.

The defence also called its final witness at the trail on Tuesday, the forensic psychologist who interviewed Morgan and assessed him while he was awaiting trial.

Expert witness

That forensic psychologist, Dr. Shao-Hua Lu, testified that he spoke to Morgan earlier this year, and that Morgan recounted what he could remember of the night of McGowan died.

Lu said that Morgan told him that he has vague memories of using MDMA but wasn't completely sure. Lu said Morgan told him that he remembers declining an offer to take MDMA but also said that Morgan has a pattern of saying no once, but then giving in if asked again.

Lu also described the effects that MDMA and Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound commonly found in magic mushrooms, can have on people. Lu said he believed that Morgan was experiencing paranoia and psychosis on the night McGowan was killed.

While Lu said it's impossible to know the intensity of the psychosis Morgan may have been experiencing, there is no way that Morgan wasn't affected by the amount of drugs and alcohol he had consumed, based on how things were described.

Lu said that in his opinion, based on what he heard and read in the police reports, Morgan couldn't have formed intent to kill based on his mental state.

Crown prosecutor Leo Lane then cross-examined Lu and asked about inconsistencies between Morgan's testimony on Monday and his clinical assessment in April 2023, about how much drugs he had consumed that night. The Crown asked about the reliability of Morgan's clinical assessment.

Closing arguments at the trial are expected on Thursday.