If Oscar Arfmann is found guilty of the 2017 killing of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson, a “mini trial” will be held to determine whether he is not criminally responsible (NCR) due to mental illness.
Closing arguments in Arfmann’s first-degree murder trial – which began in May – were heard Thursday and Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
When both sides had finished their submissions, Justice Carol Ross said she was reserving her verdict, with the parties due back in court Sept. 25 to set a date for Ross’s decision.
Ross said if she finds Arfmann guilty, she wants both sides to be prepared to make submissions on his mental state at the time of the killing.
An NCR ruling would mean that the judge believes that Arfmann did not have the capacity to appreciate his actions and know right from wrong at the time of the offence.
Individuals who receive such a ruling fall under the mandate of the BC Review Board, which conducts an assessment to determine whether the person should be detained in a hospital, discharged in the community under certain conditions or discharged without conditions.
However, Arfmann’s lawyers Martin Peters and Frances Mahon are hoping the case doesn’t get that far and that Ross will acquit Arfmann.
Peters argued Friday in court that the Crown did not prove that Arfmann killed Davidson nor did they establish a motive.
Peters said Arfmann had no reason to kill Davidson. They were complete strangers and Arfmann had no history with the Abbotsford Police Department, Peters said.
He also said some of the witness testimony was “tainted” because individuals had seen photos and TV coverage of the case before giving their statements to police and/or testifying in court.
“That evidence should be given no weight whatsoever. It is completely valueless,” Peters said of those witnesses.
Mahon addressed contradictions in witness testimony, including discrepancies in the description of the man with a gun seen at the Mt. Lehman Road business complex where Davidson was killed on Nov. 6, 2017.
There were two shooting incidents – one in which Arfmann allegedly fired two shots after he was confronted about a stolen Mustang by two employees of the Fraser Valley Automall and the other involving Davidson.
Peters said witness descriptions of the man involved in the first incident were consistent, but did not match the description from witnesses who had seen the shooter in Davidson’s killing.
He said the Crown also did not prove that the black Mustang seen driving away after Davidson was shot was the same black Mustang seen in the first shooting.
No licence plate or driver description was provided by witnesses from the period during and after Davidson’s shooting, Peters said.
Mahon said there were also inconsistencies from police regarding the description of the gun that was taken by officers when Arfmann was arrested and the one that was tested.
Mahon also said none of Davidson’s blood was found on Arfmann’s clothes, which were taken from him shortly after his arrest just minutes after Davidson’s killing, nor was any of his DNA found on any of the bullet casings found at the scene.
Mahon addressed the Crown’s submission about Arfmann’s blood having been found on the gun that was tested. She said several officers were involved in his arrest, when he was “bleeding profusely” after having been shot.
Any of those officers could have had Arfmann’s blood on them and transferred it to the gun, Mahon said.
Crown counsel Wendy Stephen responded to the defence arguments by saying that Arfmann had a clear motive to kill Davidson.
“Const. Davidson was acting in the course of his duties to catch a person who had just shot up a truck at Quizno’s. And Mr. Arfmann, not unreasonably, wants to get away,” she said.
During Thursday’s submissions, Stephen said, to surmise that anyone besides Arfmann killed Davidson, given all the evidence, “would be to speculate beyond the point of absurdity.”
Speaking outside of the courthouse after the proceedings, Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr said he is “very confident” in the Crown’s case.
“I’m so very impressed. They did an outstanding job of presenting the case, of laying out all the evidence, so we’re just very thankful for all the efforts of Crown,” he said.
Davidson’s family has been in the courtroom every day of the trial, and Serr said that, although hearing the defence arguments the last two days has been difficult, they understand that it’s an important part of the justice system.
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Vikki Hopes | Reporter
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