The Surrey RCMP officer who was first on scene on the night Maple Batalia was murdered struggled to maintain his composure as he recalled what he saw that night four-and-a-half years ago.
Const. Daniel Johnson was testifying at the trial of Gursimar Singh Bedi, who is charged with manslaughter with a gun and accessory after the fact in connection with Batalia’s shooting on Sept. 28, 2011.
Johnson said he was patrolling in Whalley alone when he received the call of shots fired. The location was vague, but he eventually headed into the parkade beside SFU Surrey. Two people directed him toward the mall and SFU entrance.
Johnson got out of his car and walked toward two vehicles – one red and one white.
“I noted a body laying between the two vehicles,” he said, pausing to control his emotions.
Johnson was one of two RCMP officers to testify in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster Tuesday morning, the first day of Bedi’s trial.
Bedi’s co-accused, Gurjinder (“Gary”) Dhaliwal, was sentenced the day prior to life in prison with no chance of parole for 21 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in Batalia – his ex-girlfriend’s – death.
Johnson said upon seeing Batalia’s body, he called out, but there was no response. Seeing a lot of blood, he donned some gloves and shook the teen. Again, there was no response.
Johnson checked for a pulse, to no avail, and began resuscitation attempts. He rode in the ambulance to Royal Columbian Hospital, where he accompanied Batalia to the operating room. It was there he heard doctors pronounce her dead.
The Crown contends that while Dhaliwal was the one to shoot Batalia three times and slash her numerous times with a knife, it was Bedi who rented the car that laid in wait outside SFU. It was also Bedi who tracked Batalia and reported her whereabouts to her killer, claimed Crown prosecutor Brad Kielmann.
“In doing so, Mr. Bedi served as the eyes and ears of Mr. Dhaliwal,” Kielmann said, alleging Bedi also cleaned the car at a car wash before returning it to the rental company.
The first witness to take the stand at Bedi’s trial was Sgt. Allison Cameron, a forensic identification officer. She testified she found bullet casings and a knife at the crime scene and also examined a white Dodge Charger linked to the murder. Inside the car she found a receipt from a car wash, a blood stain on a headlight control dial and a stain on the driver’s side sun visor. There was also a bullet casing lodged under the hood of the car, Cameron said.
Bedi, wearing a grey suit, with dark short hair and beard, and dark-rimmed glasses, listened to the proceedings from the glass prisoner’s box. He is not in custody.
The trial was expected to continue through the week. The Crown planned to call a third police investigator, as well as two cellphone company representatives, to testify.