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Posts Tagged "trial"

7Oct

Murder trial begins for man accused of stabbing Abbotsford teen at high school | CBC News

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The screams of a 13-year-old girl echoed through a New Westminster courtroom Monday as the second-degree murder trial began for the man who stabbed her at an Abbotsford high school in 2016.

There is no doubt that Gabriel Brandon Klein is the man who wielded the knife that ended Letisha Reimer’s life.

But Crown prosecutor Robert Macgowan told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that Klein — who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia — will argue he should be found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.

Klein, who looks considerably heavier than in a photograph of him released by police shortly after the attack, stood in the prisoner’s dock as the second-degree murder charge was read into the record along with an aggravated assault charge involving a second student. 

He blurted out the words “not guilty” both times.

The 23-year-old wore green pre-trial sweats and heavy framed glasses and looked down as Holmes asked to see the video of the stabbing twice.

The day ended in a lockdown

The six-second video, filmed by a student on Snapchat, takes the camera to the edge of a balcony looking down into the Abbotsford Senior Secondary School rotunda.

Klein can be seen making a stabbing motion. He stands up and steps back, throwing the knife away.

A memorial outside Abbotsford Senior Secondary School in 2016 in the days after 13-year-old Letisha Reimer was killed. The man accused of her murder is on trial in B.C. Supreme Court. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

It was the first video shown in the trial, which is happening without a jury.

“Tuesday, Nov.1, 2016 was a school day at Abbotsford Senior Secondary that began much like any other,” Macgowan told the judge in his opening statement.

“The day ended with the school in a lockdown and two female students being rushed to hospital with serious stab wounds. Tragically, one of them, 13-year-old Letisha Reimer did not survive.”

The identity of the other victim, known as EI, is protected by a publication ban. Macgowan said EI survived but was left “both physically and psychologically traumatized.”

About a dozen people sat in the courtroom, and one young woman walked out before the video of the stabbing was played.

In order to establish that he was not criminally responsible for his actions, the onus will fall on Klein to prove he was either unable to appreciate his actions or that he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.

‘He was very matter of fact’

Macgowan began explaning the Crown’s evidence by laying out the sequence of events that took place in the hours and days before the attack, starting with Klein’s appearance two days earlier at the Huntingdon Border crossing in Abbotsford.

A Canada Border Services Agency officer was among the first witnesses. Krysten Montague was on duty when U.S. border patrol officers brought Klein in for crossing the border illegally.

Abbotsford Senior Secondary became a crime scene in November of 2016 after Gabriel Klein stabbed two girls, killing one. He is arguing that he should be held not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Montague said he claimed to have been looking for work on a farm when he accidentally strayed across the line. He was clean cut and made eye contact but had no identity papers. 

She said he claimed to have come to Vancouver from Alberta to visit cousins. He was homeless.

“He was very matter of fact in answering the questions,” Montague said.

“He seemed well spoken, He didn’t seem nervous. He was not uncomfortable with the situation.”

Montague said Klein was allowed to leave after about 20 minutes. She said she offered to help him find a place in a local homeless shelter. She said she later saw him walking along the road in town.

Pronounced dead at 3:05 p.m.

According to the Crown, Klein was later admitted to the emergency room of an Abbotsford hospital where he was treated, released and directed to a homeless shelter where he spent the next two nights.

The day before the stabbings, video cameras caught Klein going in and out of the local library, which was directly connected to the high school at the time. He could be seen talking to a woman as she exited.

A makeshift memorials appeared at Abbotsford Senior Secondary in the days after Letisha Reimer died of stab wounds. The man who stabbed her is on trial in B.C. Supreme Court. (CBC)

Macgowan said police tracked Klein’s movements through a series of CCTV cameras on the last day of Letisha Reimer’s life.

He could be seen walking into a liquor store and slipping two bottles of rum into his camouflage backpack. And minutes later, a camera found him walking through the parking lot on his way to the sporting goods store, Cabela’s.

Holmes and the people in the public gallery watched security video from Cabela’s, which showed Klein calmly walking to the hunting section and picking up a Buck knife. He walked out of the store without paying, box in his hand.

The same knife was entered into evidence by the lead homicide investigator in the case. He held the box at an angle so the judge could see the weapon inside.

In all of the videos leading up to the attack, Klein appears calm, walks determinedly and occasionally interacts with store clerks.

Macgowan also introduced a video taken by police in the hours after the attack in the high school.

The rotunda where the stabbings took place was by then empty of students, papers strewn on the ground alongside Klein’s backpack. Yellow police tape hung from the handrails and a video screen still displayed a message to students.

Letisha Reimer was pronounced dead of blood loss at 3:05 p.m. Nov. 1 — hours before police filmed the aftermath of the attack that killed her.

She was stabbed 14 times. Macgowan said it was an admitted fact that Klein caused every one of her wounds.

25Sep

‘There was a lot of blood’: Trial begins for man accused of murdering Vancouver couple

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Warning: This story contains content some readers may find disturbing.

A man accused of killing a Vancouver couple in their Marpole home two years ago is now on trial for first-degree murder. Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam has pleaded not guilty in the deaths of 68-year-old Richard Jones and his wife, 65-year-old Dianna Mah-Jones.

The couple’s bodies were found on Sept. 27, 2017. Prosecutor Daniel Mulligan told the court in an opening statement the Crown contends the pair were violently killed on the previous evening.

“The Crown will argue that the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Kam was the killer, and that these killings were the result of planning and deliberation,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan told the court when Mah-Jones, a highly-respected occupational therapist, did not show up for work at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, a sales representative for a mobility equipment company offered to stop by her home and check in.

Anthony Purcell testified when he went to the house, he noticed a knife on the ground and a hatchet that appeared to have blood on it. He told the court when there was no answer at the front door, he went around the back and saw the back door was open behind the screen door. He testified he also noticed a bloody shoeprint on the step.

“So I banged on the door…and yelled out for Dianna, and just said, ‘Dianna, it’s Anthony, I’m here to check on you, is everything OK?’” Purcell told the court. He testified when he didn’t get an answer, he went inside and saw more bloody footprints. He told the court he went towards the kitchen.

“There was a lot of blood, and there was obvious signs of struggle,” Purcell said. He testified he went outside and called 911, then stayed at the house until police arrived. He told the court he did not see anyone leaving the house while waiting for the officers to show up.

The court also heard from a former newspaper delivery person, Regan Tse, who testified he had spotted the knife and hatchet at the home earlier that morning. He told the court he had also met Jones before when he came out to get the paper, and the last time he saw him he was using a walker.

Mulligan told the court police found the bodies of Jones and Mah-Jones in the shower, and both had “cut-marks” on them. He expects a forensic pathologist will testify Jones’s death was caused by multiple sharp force injuries, including stab and slash wounds. He told the court he expects they’ll hear the doctor documented approximately 103 such injuries.

“Crown will argue that Mr. Jones was the victim of a prolonged, yet controlled attack in his kitchen,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan told the court the evidence suggests Mah-Jones was attacked when she returned home, and added they will hear evidence the cause of her death was blood loss from a laceration to the carotid artery.

“She was dragged to the kitchen where her throat was cut,” Mulligan said, adding that Mah-Jones also had injuries suggesting she had possibly struggled.

Mulligan told the court police discovered a hatchet with the same bar code had been purchased at a Canadian Tire on Sept. 13, along with other items, and the sale was recorded on security camera. That video has not yet been entered into evidence.

Mulligan said he also expected a forensic witness would testify Kam’s DNA profile matched one generated from the fingernails on Mah-Jones’s left hand, as well as from swabs from the knife found in the yard.

Mulligan told the court Kam was living less than a kilometre away from the couple, and Crown will argue he was captured on video in the neighbourhood.

Mulligan also said the Crown has no evidence of any relationship or connection between the accused and the victims. He told the court the Crown’s theory is Kam purchased the axe and other items “specifically to use to kill someone.”

“There is no evidence as to when or why Mr. Kam targeted Mr. Jones. However the Crown will argue the purchase of the items used in the killing, along with the manner in which the victims were killed, is evidence upon which the court can conclude that these killings were the result of planning and deliberation,” Mulligan said.

The court also heard from a former neighbour of Mah-Jones and Jones, Emma Greenhalgh, who testified she saw a Kia Soul drive off after being parked outside the couple’s house on the evening of Sept. 26. She told the court Mah-Jones drove that kind of vehicle, and said it was very unusual for her to leave at that time of night, and added her neighbour usually parked in the garage. She testified she did not see anybody get in, but it appeared there was only one person in the vehicle.

Mulligan told the court Mah-Jones’s vehicle was not located near her home, but was found the next day, and added the keys were found in a flower bed.

Greenhalgh also testified Jones and Mah-Jones had a suite in the basement they rented as an Airbnb. When asked by crown if she recognized Kam as he sat in the courtroom, Greenhalgh said she did not.

The defence has not yet presented its case. The trial continues Thursday.

Warning: Graphic content. CTV News Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber is covering the case live from court. Follow along below.

18Jul

Ian Mulgrew: Medicare expert, lawyer spar to end landmark trial

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The B.C. Government’s defence in the landmark three-year-old Medicare constitutional trial in B. C. Supreme Court is ending not with a bang but a testy, two-day courtroom sparring match involving one of its experts.

Dr. Gordon Guyatt gave as good as he got, repulsing a prolonged assault on his objectivity and left the stand Thursday having provided some last-minute fireworks but seemingly little insight on the key issue — wait-lists and the effects of constraints on access to private care in the provincial Medicare Protection Act.

“My perception is that there’s been a fluctuation of concerns with waiting lists and that governments have, to an extent, addressed things,” he said.

“Things can always get better … you have tensions — constant tensions — in every health care system in the world, and problems will never be solved.”

A specialist in internal medicine and, for almost 35 years, a health researcher at McMaster University, the argumentative Guyatt was assailed as more of an ideological warrior than a disinterested expert.

Robert Grant, lawyer for the two clinics and handful of patients behind the legal challenge over barriers to access to private care, portrayed Guyatt as a virulent opponent of the private clinics and Dr. Brian Day, the driving force behind the decade-old litigation.

Noting he had a duty to be impartial, Guyatt bristled at the broadsides aimed at impeaching his credibility.

“Given my, given that commitment, I do not see personally as relevant further pursuit of my opinions about issues beyond the issues that I’ve been asked to comment on in my deposition,” he complained.

“Thank you for that,” Justice John Steeves said. “In the meantime, just answer his questions.”

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Government lawyers vainly tried to halt the brutal cross-examination that battered Guyatt’s neutrality.

A self-described left winger who ran repeatedly as an NDP candidate, Guyatt has been a social activist for 40 years.

In 1979 he co-founded the Ontario-based Medical Reform Group, which disbanded in 2014 and was replaced by the Canadian Doctors for Medicare, which he joined.

He was also a director of the Ontario Health Coalition, an activist network, that along with its sister group the B.C. Health Coalition, is a member of the Canadian Health Coalition.

Doctors for Medicare and the B.C. coalition, under the banner of B.C. Friends of Medicare Society, have intervened in the challenge to support the government case.

Grant accused the groups of wrongly asserting Day seeks “U.S.-style health care for Canada, where people go bankrupt, lose their homes and life savings, or worse, because they can’t afford treatment when they need it.”

The B.C. coalition, he said, incorrectly claimed Day wanted a system where “international private insurance corporations run the show and patients foot the bill.”

Grant said the groups were fearmongering.

“It is an overstatement that this case could bring down single-tier Medicare,” Guyatt agreed, adding he also did not endorse the portrayal of Day and his supporters as “greedy, awful people.”

He maintained he was too busy to keep up with everything the groups did,  and distanced himself from the inflammatory rhetoric.

“The way I would put it is that we were advocates for equitable high-quality health care accessible to people without financial obstacles,” he said.

“So, specifically, as I have said previously, I believe that it is more appropriate to base care on the need — the medical need than on ability to pay — and I would like to work, continue to work, in a system where the patients I treat are treated on the basis of need rather than ability to pay.
”

“I understand,” Grant replied.

“But the point (of the trial) isn’t about what you want to do in your own practice; it’s whether or not increased private health care, and specifically private-pay surgeries, will be permitted or not. And you are opposed to increased private-pay surgeries. Isn’t that right?
”

“Yes,” Guyatt confirmed.

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Grant insisted Guyatt was a vocal opponent of Day within the Canadian Medical Association, seeing him as a “tragic choice” and “a complete disaster” as the organization’s president.

“I don’t recall active involvement in that matter,” Guyatt said, but again added such comments would be “hyperbolic.”

The Ontario specialist attacked the concept of using “benchmarks” to measure surgical waiting times — saying “not much” research has been conducted to establish what is acceptable and he suggested they were undependable tools set by “good old boys sitting around the table.”

But Guyatt has long minimized waiting lists and their ill effects — calling them “a problem that may be much smaller than we imagine” in 2004.

And he acknowledged he was not familiar with the circumstances in B.C.

“Certainly not in detail …. I do not know the details of the extent of waiting lists currently. I am sure that waiting lists remain a problem. … and that they’re not optimal … I do not know well enough to know whether it would be appropriate to characterize them as a serious problem or not.
”

The final witness John Frank, an expert on social determinants of health, took the stand later on July 18 and was to finish July 19 — day 179 of the proceedings.

“When this trial began I thought it would last up to 18 weeks (three times longer than the similar Chaoulli case in Que.),” said Day, founder of the private Cambie Surgery Centre.

“I am happy that — almost 3 years later — the witness phase is over. I am confident that the justice system will eventually grant all Canadians the same rights to protect their health that the Supreme Court of Canada granted to citizens of Que., and that the citizens of every other country in the world enjoy.”

Justice Steeves plans to hear final arguments this fall and begin deliberations in December.

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5Jun

Government defends ICBC cap in response to lawsuit filed by trial lawyers

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Damaged vehicles are seen at ICBC’s Lower Mainland Salvage Yard.


DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The B.C. government is defending its decision to impose a cap on ICBC claims for minor injuries, in a response to a lawsuit filed by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.

In April, the association sued in B.C. Supreme Court, saying the $5,500 cap on minor injury claims and the establishment of a civil resolution tribunal to adjudicate certain claims were unconstitutional and should be struck down.

The NDP government had passed the legislation enacting the changes last year after declaring that ICBC, which has reported losses of $2.2 billion in the past two years, was in a financial crisis and measures were needed to protect the interests of B.C. drivers and keep premiums down.

The association’s lawsuit argues that the new regulations have the potential to discriminate against people with brain injuries, psychiatric injuries and chronic pain by treating those injuries differently than other injuries.

It said that the scheme would have a “disproportionately adverse effect” upon women, the elderly and persons with pre-existing injuries or other disabilities.

The establishment of the tribunal would create “significant barriers” to access to justice before the superior courts for many claimants, said the suit.

But a response filed in court by the Attorney General’s Ministry emphasized that the substantial increases in ICBC claims costs had jeopardized the Crown corporation’s long-term sustainability and its ability to keep basic insurance rates affordable for drivers.

The ministry denied that the cap disproportionately adversely affects women, the elderly or persons with pre-existing conditions. “The defendants further deny that the minor injury definition includes conditions that have been subject to prejudice and stereotyping, historically or at all.”

Any distinction that the cap may draw among accident claimants is based on severity of injury, not mental or physical disability, says the ministry’s response.

The response defended the establishment of the tribunal, saying that its mandate was to resolve claims within its jurisdiction in a manner that is “accessible, speedy, economical, informal and flexible.”

The tribunal does not create a barrier to access to justice in the superior courts, the ministry said.

“There is no constitutional or fundamental right to have vehicle accident claims determined by a superior court,” it said. “Historically and at Confederation, the superior courts exercised concurrent jurisdiction with inferior courts and tribunals for personal injury claims.

“The minor injury amendments do not impair the core jurisdiction of the superior courts, nor do they otherwise cause undue hardship thereby impeding access to justice for accident claimants to whom they apply.”

No date has been set for a trial.

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26Sep

Murder trial heard friend, boyfriend concerned when Kogawa stopped texting

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The day Natsumi Kogawa was last seen alive, she was supposed to meet with a new Canadian friend who had promised to get her a job at a Japanese restaurant where his cousin worked.

Derek Manhas was going to pick up Kogawa at her North Burnaby homestay on Sept. 8, 2016, at 5:30 p.m., later changed to 6:30 p.m. They were planning to walk the Seawall and go to Miku near Canada Place so she could fill out a job application.

But the message the 30-year-old Japanese student sent to Manhas, 35, confirming their 6:30 p.m. meeting was the last time he ever heard from her.

When Kogawa didn’t show up, Manhas looked for her between her home and the nearest SkyTrain station, texting her along the way before finally giving up and going home.

A few hours before that planned meeting, Kogawa was captured on CCTV video walking with William Schneider west on Hastings Street toward Stanley Park.


Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa seen walking with William Schneider on Sept. 8, 2016. Schneider is accused of her murder.

RCMP /

PNG

She had just bought a mickey of vodka at a liquor store and some chips and crackers at the Dollarama store, both not far from Miku.

Two weeks later, Kogawa’s body was found in a suitcase on a lot of the old Gabriola Mansion, and the old Macaroni Grill, in the West End of Vancouver. The next day, Schneider was arrested in Vernon.

Schneider, an unemployed 51-year-old who at the time was living in a shelter and collecting welfare, has been charged with her murder and with interfering with human remains.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges at his B.C. Supreme Court trial in front of judge and jury.

Manhas, who met Kogawa through mutual friends in mid-July 2016, told court he was immediately concerned about Kogawa’s no-show on Sept. 8.

That weekend he went hiking out of town and when he returned and realized that other friends hadn’t heard from Kogawa, he called police to report her missing.

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That evening, Jay Vergara, Kogawa’s boyfriend, also called police to report her missing after Kogawa hadn’t returned any of his texts or calls since they last communicated shortly after midnight on Sept. 8, 2016.

Vergara testified that he travelled to her Burnaby homestay on Sept. 12, 2016, to try to find her.

“I thought maybe she was sick, something had happened with her phone,” he said. “I was panicking and I was knocking on her door.”

Vergara said Kogawa “studied a lot to perfect her English” and wanted to find a part-time job and to extend her visa to allow her to remain in Canada because she “loved” it here.

He also said she was learning to play the ukulele.

Manhas described Kogawa as “happy, calm, peaceful, nice, genuine.”

Both men said she never exhibited any medical, emotional or mental problems and didn’t take any drugs, prescribed or otherwise. Vergara said she drank beer but didn’t drink vodka.

On Thursday, Crown will call as its witness Schneider’s brother, Warren Schneider.

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