The stabbing of Paul Prestbakmo was “intense and ferocious,” and those who inflicted the wounds knew that they could cause death, or injuries that could lead to death.
That was the assertion of Crown counsel Louise Kenworthy Monday (March 8) in Surrey Provincial Court, in making closing submissions in the case against two youths on trial for the killing of Prestbakmo in August 2019, and the assault of a White Rock senior earlier that same morning.
And neither accused should be held less accountable than the other, Kenworthy contended.
“Our position is that they’re co-perpetrators,” she told Judge Robert Hamilton. “They both jointly participated in the aggravated assault… and they both jointly participated in the attack on Mr. Prestbakmo.”
Defence counsel for one of the accused, however, disagreed, contending the evidence did not support that conclusion – that there was “simply no evidence” his client participated in an assault on the senior, nor that he inflicted the wounds that killed Prestbakmo.
While Michael Klein acknowledged that DNA and video evidence puts his client close to Prestbakmo, “it doesn’t mean (he) inflicted the wounds.”
Prestbakmo died just before 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2019, after he was attacked in a commercial parking lot at 18 Avenue and 152 Street. It’s alleged that a senior found later with significant injuries suffered those injuries in an attack less than an hour before Prestbakmo was stabbed death, in the 1600-block of 152 Street.
One month later, police announced second-degree murder charges against two teens, aged 15 and 16 at the time, in connection with Prestbakmo’s death. The following month, in October 2019, they announced further charges of aggravated assault against the same youths, in connection with the attack on the senior.
Due to their ages, the teens’ identities are protected by a publication ban.
During trial – which got underway in January – the court heard from witnesses including those who were with the accused in the hours and days before and after the attacks; those who heard Prestbakmo cry out for help as he lay dying; experts who analyzed CCTV footage associated with the two crime scenes as well as blood spatter; and a witness who testified to seeing the altercation that ended in Prestbakmo’s death.
A number of witnesses told the court that one of the accused had claimed the killing was gang-related.
Monday, Kenworthy said the evidence does not support that assertion. Pointing to testimony regarding that accused’s propensity to lie, she suggested he had embellished in an effort to build a reputation in the community “based on what the Crown is saying really was just a senseless killing of Mr. Prestbakmo.”
The motive, she said – noting the court had heard that both accused were in bad moods in the hours prior to the crimes – was simply “generalized hostility against the world.”
Prestbakmo, who had stepped out to take out some garbage and have a cigarette, “was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the accused were out and about looking to engage in personal violence.”
The attack lasted 26 seconds, she said, and left Prestbakmo with 15 wounds in his chest and abdominal area, 18 in his back and six in his neck. The senior targeted earlier was left with facial and rib fractures as well as extensive bruising.
Kenworthy acknowledged that there is no direct evidence as to how the senior was injured – an assault was not caught on video and there were no witnesses – but said evidence heard over the course of the trial leaves little doubt. That evidence includes CCTV footage that puts the teens and senior in the same area at the same time; that the senior’s blood was found on the shoe of one of the accused; and that the accused returned to a residence where they had been earlier with the senior’s cigarettes.
In Prestbakmo’s killing, the case, she said, is “in many respects… circumstantial,” however, an array of evidence – including that the accused set out armed with knives just prior to Prestbakmo’s death – points to the teens’ intention to kill.
“If you make that finding, then you’re done,” Kenworthy said.
Klein contended that two of the Crown’s key witnesses – one who testified regarding statements made by the accused and another who said they witnessed the altercation – were neither reliable nor credible.
The first admitted to, among other things, initally lying to police, and the second was mistaken as to what he could have actually seen, Klein said. Regarding the latter, Klein explained that a building stood between the witness’s location and the altercation, meaning he could not have seeen what he claimed. As well, that same witness didn’t tell police he’d seen an altercation until 16 months after the killing, Klein added.
Klein agreed that video evidence of the assault on Prestbakmo clearly shows three people interacting.
“The question is what actually occurred,” he said. “Were both people committing an assault? Was one of those persons coming to the aid of Mr. Prestbakmo? (From the video), we don’t necessarily know that.”
Closing submissions were scheduled through Wednesday (March 10).
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter