The man charged with killing Abbotsford Police officer Const. John Davidson is expected to go to trial next year.
Jury selection in the trial of Oscar Arfmann has been scheduled to start Jan. 3, 2019 in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack. Cases sometimes proceed immediately upon the completion of jury selection, but more commonly they are adjourned to a later date.
Arfmann, 65, has been charged with first-degree murder in Davidson’s killing, which occurred Nov. 6, 2017 at a strip mall on Mt. Lehman Road in Abbotsford.
Davidson, 53, was the first officer on scene after police received reports of shots being fired at civilians.
He was struck by gunfire and was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after.
Arfmann was arrested not far from the scene following a police chase that ended in a crash and with more shots being fired. He was shot in the incident and was taken to hospital.
UBC law professor Janine Benedet said it’s difficult to speculate about what defence could be raised in any particular case.
“But this does seem like a case in which a claim of not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder would be anticipated,” she said.
Benedet said Crown has the onus, in first-degree murder, of proving that the accused intended to cause death – or intended to cause bodily harm he knew was likely to cause death – “so there can be arguments based on the fact that the death was not intentional.”
“For example, intoxication can be raised to negate this intent, which would make someone guilty of manslaughter not murder,” she said.
Benedet also pointed out that an accused in a first-degree murder case could, after a period of negotiation, plead guilty to a lesser charge – such as second-degree murder – and forego the trial.
“This can happen right up to the start of the trial,” she said.
Benedet said the “vast majority” of murder trials are by judge and jury and not judge alone.
Meanwhile, another Abbotsford murder case is also getting closer to trial.
Gabriel Klein, 23, is currently before the courts on pre-trial applications related to whether certain evidence should be allowed at his trial.
His trial is scheduled to begin May 7 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster but that could be delayed, depending on how long the other proceedings take.
Klein is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016.
He is also charged with the aggravated assault of Reimer’s friend (who cannot be named due to a publication ban), who was 14 at the time of the attack.