Rydell Tuaupiki Martin was preparing an axe blow to end his victim when another person in the melee grabbed the weapon from him, a court has heard.
Phillip Macpherson pleaded for mercy as the axe was swung in the small-town street fight, witnesses said.
But he died after massive blood loss on March 1, 2019, in the north Waikato settlement of Pukemiro.
Martin, 27, is on trial in the High Court at Hamilton for murder, but he says he is guilty of manslaughter.
One of the men involved in the Joseph St brawl, Alazay Fisher-Williams, described grabbing the axe.
I sort of caught my moment to rip it out of [Martin’s] hands, he said. I just wanted it to stop.
Fisher-Williams is related to Martin and they had been drinking gin and juice together on the street that evening.
He gave evidence on Tuesday, after initially refusing to answer questions.
Talking about the fighting brings back some s… I don’t want to remember, he said.
Pukemiro is a small settlement west of Huntly, with one road in and out.
The axe Martin was holding was flying everywhere, repeatedly hitting Macpherson, he said.
When Martin drew the axe back over his head, Fisher-Williams said he realised he was going to end Macpherson.
That’s when I ripped the axe out the back of his hands, Fisher-Williams said.
His mother then took the axe from him and threw it over a fence into an empty paddock.
Fisher-Williams had earlier stepped into a fight between his brother, Hanuere Fisher-Williams, and Macpherson.
Hanuere Fisher-Williams also gave evidence on Tuesday, saying he heard Macpherson pleading for his life.
I could hear [Macpherson] saying, That’s enough. That’s enough I’ve got kids.
Hanuere Fisher-Williams had been injured by a blow to his shoulder in the fight, and his mother pulled him out. As he walked away, he heard more axe swings, Macpherson’s pleas, and people telling Martin to stop, he said.
Martin admits delivering the fatal blow to Macpherson, defence counsel Philip Morgan, QC, has said, but should be found guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
The Crown also alleges Martin hit Fisher-Williams’ shoulder with the axe, with a blow that went astray.
He’s facing an assault charge for that, but his lawyer has said he was using reasonable force to defend his relative.
The street fight that led to Macpherson’s death seems to have had several triggers, and witnesses have slightly varying ideas of what happened.
Fisher-Williams said he went down because he heard some men were beating up his little brother.
He started fighting after Macpherson made a comment along the lines of, I should make you squeal like I made your dog squeal.
Friends of Phillip Macpherson were out in the street because they’d heard fighting noises and gone to check if it was him, knowing he’d previously had problems with other locals.
There was also tension about a recently stolen chainsaw, which the men had been asking about around town.
Macpherson wasn’t in the street when his friends arrived he was in a house up the road.
However, one of his friends, Jonothan Shand, had brought an axe and vacuum cleaner pipe with him, which wasn’t well-received by a group in the street.
Macpherson came down the road, angry, and ended up in the fray.
His sister, Sonia Macpherson, and her aunty drove home and rang police.
Shand later got a car to retrieve his friend, who was slumped and unresponsive when they got back to the house.
I was just slapping him … trying to wake him up. But he wasn’t waking up, his sister told the court.
I was just screaming, We need to put him on the ground. We need to get him to hospital. We need to do CPR. Just screaming.
The jury trial continues with 10 jurors due to illness.