CALGARY - A man allegedly tortured by his former roommate says the beatings started the first day they were together in Calgary, but he never left because he didn't want to be a sissy.
The 28-year-old, who cannot be identified under a court order, took the stand Monday at Dustin Paxton's trial. A large video screen hid him from Paxton, who is accused of aggravated assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement over a period of two years.
The man talked about how he and Paxton met through a mutual acquaintance in Winnipeg and grew closer as time passed.
When Paxton moved to booming Calgary a few years later, he asked his friend to join him. He landed in Calgary and went directly to where Paxton was working. Later that evening when they were at Paxton's room, he said things turned violent.
"Dustin got mad and started hitting me on the head with a steel-toed boot."
He said the beating lasted 10 to 15 minutes and Paxton later said he was sorry.
"He apologized for half a day. After that I thought I would let it slide. I just thought I was being a sissy," the alleged victim said. "I forgave him."
He said things improved somewhat when the two men got an apartment together because he would do everything Paxton told him to do.
But the violent episodes continued. He testified that Paxton flew into a rage one day over hash browns that the roommate had saved in the fridge for his lunch.
"He lost his mind and started punching me in the face and choking me."
There were beatings with a cane, an extension cord and a dog leash. Sometimes, he said, Paxton choked him to the point of unconsciousness.
The alleged victim said he didn't leave because he didn't want to be seen as weak and because he had big dreams about working in Calgary.
The two men set up a business together. When he was out on a job, he told customers that he was a big fan of boxing and that was why he always looked like he had been in a fight.
The man's testimony has been anticipated for weeks. Court has already heard he was beaten, bruised and emaciated when he was dropped off at a Regina hospital in April 2010.
He spoke slowly and clearly on the stand, receiving support from his stepfather who sat nearby.
Paxton has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He kept his head down and looked at the floor as he listened closely to the testimony. At some points Paxton shook his head no vehemently; at other times he would laugh quietly.
The witness told the court that Paxton would grow angry if he ate more than one meal per day. The beatings weren't limited to him alone — he said Abraham Chutta, who has already testified, would also get assaulted.
"Dustin Paxton used to sit both of us on the couch," the alleged victim testified. "He would take turns whipping us both with a dog leash. It was mostly in the legs. He was always trying to hit us on the same spot."
One time, he and Chutta were pulled over by police. The officer noted bruises on his back, but when questioned, he said a stove had fallen on him.
Why didn't he tell police the truth?
"Because I was embarrassed," he replied.
Witnesses have already told court that the alleged victim looked like "a pile of bones" and was covered with bruises and abrasions when dumped at the hospital. He was missing about two-thirds of his bottom lip, which court heard was probably the result of a blow to his face.
The alleged victim has regained the weight he lost, but he has trouble with balance, which shows when he walks. He appeared at ease during the testimony.
At the end of the day's testimony, his mother and stepfather were angry with photographers and cameramen who tried to take pictures as they left court. They grabbed at the cameras, pushing them away before departing in a waiting minivan.
Earlier in the day, Paxton's lawyer argued that the Crown was in a conflict of interest.
Jim Lutz suggested a witness who testified he saw Paxton beat his roommate with a bamboo stick was offered a lighter sentence on unrelated charges he was facing in exchange for his testimony at Paxton's trial.
Justice Sheilah Martin of Court of Queen's Bench dismissed the argument. She said there was no evidence that a plea deal had been worked out, so there was no conflict of interest.