The key witness in the brazen shooting of South Surrey father Craig Widdifield took the stand in B.C. Supreme Court Monday morning, testifying he “had direct line of sight” to the killing.
“I saw a person with their right arm extended to another person, heard or saw the two or three shots, the person stepping into the vehicle fell backwards,” the witness told the court. “At that point, I saw everyone just scatter… realized this was the real deal and sort of… saw the last breath of the victim.”
The witness – whose identity is protected by a publication ban – shared his account of the events on the sixth day of the proceedings against Brody Robert Paterson, 22.
Paterson, arrested in October 2014, pleaded not guilty last week to a charge of first-degree murder in connection with Widdifield’s death, which occurred just before 7 p.m. on April 24, 2013, in the parking lot of the Morgan Crossing shopping centre.
Police at the time described it as a targeted shooting. Following Paterson’s arrest, Asst. Supt. Dwayne McDonald of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team described the shooting as a “murder conspiracy.”
The court heard last week that witnesses scheduled over the four-week trial would testify that Widdifield, 28, was shot and killed by a lone gunman as Widdifield was getting into his white Mercedes SUV.
Monday’s witness told Justice Peter Voith he was looking for parking near the Morgan Crossing Starbucks when the shooting took place.
He described the shooter as between five-foot-seven and five-foot-11, with broad shoulders and wearing a dark-blue hoodie with the hood up, jeans, white shoes and “some sort of mask to disguise his face.”
The witness told the court he had “no idea” of the shooter’s ethnicity.
Following the shooting, the shooter ran around the front of a dark-blue Jeep Grand Cherokee that was parked next to Widdifield’s SUV, entered through the front passenger door, climbed over the console into the driver’s seat and sped away, the witness said.
Cellphone in hand, the witness said he decided to follow the Jeep to get a licence-plate number for police. As he followed – the Jeep sped through the parking lot in the 15700-block of Croydon Drive, turned right on Croydon and made another right on 28 Avenue – the witness called 911.
When the Jeep turned left onto 165 Street – a dead-end road – the witness said he turned right, then backed his vehicle into a driveway and looked towards the dead-end road.
He could see the back end of the now-parked Jeep, and witnessed someone walk casually “from the bushes to another vehicle… halfway between the stop sign and the dead end.” He confirmed he did not see that individual exit the Jeep.
The witness described the second vehicle as a “platinum-grey Volkswagen Jetta.” It drove away 25-30 seconds later, turning eastbound on 28 Avenue, he said.
In response to questions from defence counsel Michael Klein, the witness confirmed he had a direct view of the shooting, that he was certain the shooter climbed into the driver’s seat of the Jeep from the passenger side and that he didn’t lose sight of the Jeep during his pursuit. He also confirmed that he didn’t see how much of the shooter’s face was covered.
The trial is scheduled until Nov. 7.