The Village of Zeballos. The Ehattesaht Reserve is located to the left and cannot be seen in this photo.

Dramatic 911 call heard at manslaughter trial

Marguerite John, 33, is charged in the stabbing death of Russell John, 42

The final hour of Russell John’s life plays out on a 911 audio recording moments after his common-law wife stabs him in the heart.

“Wake up. Wake up,” pleads Marguerite (Toni) John.

But Russell John doesn’t respond and never will.

He’s bleeding profusely from a single stab wound to the middle of his chest which broke through the soft ribcage cartilage, perforated the pericardium sac, and entered his heart.

It’s around 10 a.m., on March 7, 2009, and Russell John is dying in his uncle’s home on the Ehattesaht Reserve located beside the isolated West Coast village of Zeballos.

“He’s bleeding to death!” Marguerite tells the ambulance operator. “I stabbed him in the chest…he’s bleeding to death, we need an ambulance fast!…Russell, wake up!”

In a calm voice, the male operator instructs Marguerite to get a clean towel and apply pressure to the wound.

But she’s already pressing Russell’s blood-soaked T-shirt to his chest.

“There’s blood all over!” she says as the blood forms a four-foot pool on the floor.

Russell John is 42 years old, stands 5’8”, and weighs 170 pounds. Until now, he’s lived in relatively good health.

An autopsy later reveals a lump of scar tissue on his upper chest and a fatty liver, an indication of long-time alcohol abuse.

On the night before he dies, Russell and Marguerite drink heavily.

An empty 40-ounce bottle of Smirnoff vodka is found in a nearby trailer where they’ve been partying and fighting, and Marguerite tells the ambulance operator she’s still drunk.

“We fight a lot…I just wanted him to stop,” she sobs. “I don’t know what I’m going to do – (I’m) scared…he beats me up all the time…I get tired of it.”

The night of drinking and fighting ends when Russell retreats to his uncle’s home. The next morning, as the snowfall gives way to sunshine, Marguerite walks to the house, apparently to make amends with Russell, when everything goes wrong.

She stabs him and he collapses onto a couch, where he slips into unconsciousness, with his head slumped towards his chest.

But Russell’s heart continues beating and pumps out several litres of blood through the hole in his chest.

His heavy breathing turns to snores, but then his breathing becomes shorter and shallower as the blood pressure drops.

“I’m losing him!” cries Marguerite. “He’s not breathing, but I can feel his heart…Russell, Russell, I need you to breathe!”

The operator tells Marguerite to get Russell onto the floor. He then instructs her how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

She blows quick breaths into his mouth and then pumps his chest to keep the heart going and the blood pressure up.

“It’s a really tough situation. You’re doing great,” the operator reassures her. “Keep doing it over and over. Don’t give up!”

Finally, an ambulance paramedic and a volunteer firefighter arrive. The paramedic is Ernie Smith who’s known Russell all his life.

“His heart is still beating, but he’s slowing down,” Smith tells the operator.

Smith knows Russell’s life is in jeopardy and they need to get him on air ambulance and to hospital as fast as possible.

He’s bundled onto a stretcher and taken by ambulance to the nearby ball field where the helicopter will land.

Marguerite is in the ambulance too as Russell’s life begins to slip away.

She watches as Smith and the volunteer firefighters take turns performing CPR, but eventually she can’t take it anymore and leaves.

Smith and the firefighters continue their efforts for 40 minutes when protocol dictates they only need to do CPR for 30 minutes. Smith is finally told to stop and Russell John dies in the back of an ambulance without ever regaining consciousness.

When police finally arrive from Port McNeill, Marguerite John is arrested and charged with murder. The charge is later reduced to manslaughter.

The 33-year-old has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is currently being tried by Justice Douglas Halfyard in B.C. Supreme Court.

The trial is expected to continue next week in Campbell River.

E-mail paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

CFL will use extra on-field official to watch for illegal blows to quarterback

If the extra official sees an illegal blow that has not already been flagged, they will advise the head referee, who can then assess a penalty for roughing the passer

Older B.C. drivers subsidizing younger ones, study finds

ICBC protects higher-risk drivers, pays for testing costs

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh weighs in on Vancouver Island fishing ban

Singh and MacGregor say improving salmon abundance is important

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Most Read