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Updated: 2nd February 2020 03:55 Calgary

'I was always blackout drunk': Mother of admitted killer details son's childhood

The mother of a Calgary man on trial for second-degree murder testified Tuesday in an effort to "take accountability" for her role in how his life turned out.

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Alan Bird on trial for shooting Jaime Orellana, who was trying to defuse domestic dispute

Maria Bird gave emotional testimony at her son Alan Devon Bird's second-degree murder trial, October. 8, 2019. (David Bell/CBC)

The mother of a Calgary man on trial for second-degree murder testified Tuesday in an effort to "take accountability" for her role in how his life turned out. 

Maria Bird's 24-year-old son, Alan Devon Bird, is on trial for the 2015 death of Jaime Orellana. 

Orellana was shot seven times and died trying to defuse a domestic dispute between Alan and his then girlfriend. Bird admitted to the shooting, the only issue at this trial is his intent.

Jaime Orellana was a father figure to his four younger siblings and the "go-to person if you needed some uplifting words or words of wisdom," his sister said. (Submitted by Gabriella Orellana)

Heavy drinking and drug use

The accused's mother told court on Tuesday that her drug and alcohol use started when she was  just 11 years old. When she was pregnant with Alan, she was drinking heavily and consumed marijuana throughout. 

"I was always blackout drunk," she said. "I could never have one or two drinks. It was always blackout or it was a waste of my time and money."

According to his mother, Alan was removed from her care multiple times during his childhood and was often subjected to violence and partying.

"I have no recollection of any of his childhood because he was so in and out of my life that I can't even remember if I went to a parent-teacher conference for him," she said, breaking down in the witness box.

Unstable home life

By the time Alan was eight years old, he was a permanent ward of children's services, but was a runaway and was staying "here and there", including at family members' homes. 

"I didn't tell the workers because I knew what they were going to do to them, which was put them with strangers," said Maria. 

She said that at one point, when Alan was just three years old, he witnessed her being physically abused.

"We were drinking and obviously something came up. We started yelling, the kids were up — him and his brother. He witnessed his father stab me with a knife," she said.

'I haven't had a drink since'

The mother said she never had any form of employment and always relied on social assistance until just three years ago — three years after she'd given up drugs and when she finally stopped drinking.

"My granddaughter saw me drinking," she said.

"She said to me, 'Grandma, I don't want to see you die. Can you please stop drinking?' and I poured out that can and I haven't had a drink since."

Despite Alan's tough upbringing, Maria says her son always took care of her when he could. 

She says he helped her financially and emotionally when she was moving from Manitoba to Ontario in an effort to become sober. 

"He was telling me it wasn't the life for me, he wanted to see me be a better mother."

Police were called to the northeast community of Winston Heights-Mountview on Feb. 22, 2015, after Jaime Orellana was shot while trying to break up a domestic dispute between Bird and his girlfriend. (CBC)

'Here to take accountability'

Alan's defence is founded on a recent diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder — something Maria says one of her other children has also been diagnosed with.

When asked by Crown prosecutor Heather Morris if she was testifying because she didn't want her son to go to jail, or wanted to lessen the consequences for him, Maria said that wasn't the case. 

"No. These are the consequences of his behaviours. If he has to go to jail, he has to go to jail. There is nothing I can do about it," she said.

"I'm here to take accountability for my actions for my son. For what I did to him while I was conceiving him and he was inside of me, for the alcohol and drugs I consumed."

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson


Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary, currently focused on bringing you stories related to education in Alberta. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alta,. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

With files from Meghan Grant

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