NEW WESTMINSTER — A judge is scheduled to deliver a verdict today in the trial of a man accused of gunning down a police officer in Abbotsford, B.C.
Oscar Arfmann has pleaded not guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to first-degree murder in the death of Const. John Davidson, who was responding to reports of a stolen vehicle when he was killed in November 2017.
In their closing arguments more than two months ago, defence lawyers said Arfmann had no motive to kill Davidson and that the Crown’s case depended on conflicting witness accounts.
The prosecution argued Arfmann ambushed the 53-year-old officer as he got out of his vehicle, shooting him twice from behind.
Crown attorney Wendy Stephen told the trial that a man matching Arfmann’s description stole a vehicle two days earlier and shot at the dealership managers who confronted him, left the area, then returned and killed Davidson to escape arrest.
Stephen said witnesses at the trial identified a black Mustang and man wearing a black leather jacket with a gun at the scene of the shooting, and that proves Arfmann’s guilt.
But the defence said only two witnesses say they saw the shooting and their descriptions of the suspect vary.
“There is not a single witness who can say, ‘It was Mr. Arfmann who did it,’ ” said Frances Mahon, who is part of the legal team defending Arfmann.
Mahon also questioned the Crown’s assertion that the rifle accepted as the murder weapon was linked to the accused.
Arfmann’s DNA was found only on a small area of the gun and, since he was bleeding profusely at the time of his arrest, it’s possible that DNA was transferred by an officer at the scene, she said.
None of Davidson’s blood was found on Arfmann, nor was Arfmann’s DNA confirmed on bullet casings found at the scene, Mahon said.
“The Crown’s case is really only as strong as the foundation it rests on,” she told the court. “We say it is not so solid as it appears at first glance.”
In reserving her decision on Aug. 2, Justice Carol Ross advised the Crown and defence that if she finds Arfmann guilty, each side should be ready to make submissions about the potential role of his mental state. Ross said it’s also possible she’ll find Arfmann not guilty of the murder of Davidson.
Speaking outside court after Ross reserved her decision, defence lawyer Martin Peters said the judge’s comments on Arfmann’s mental state means if he is found guilty, the court would next explore the question of whether he can be held criminally responsible for the murder.
“That would depend upon, essentially, a trial of that issue, of what was his mental state at the time, what do doctors say about it,” Peters said.
The Canadian Press