The key witness at the trial related to the 2010 fatal shooting of Mandy Johnson, 22, of Langley will be a man who escaped injury in the same incident, a Crown lawyer said Monday.
Lawyer Mark Crisp provided his opening statements Monday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster at the trial of Jason Himpfen, charged with second-degree murder in relation to Johnson’s killing on Polar Avenue in Abbotsford on July 28, 2010.
Himpfen, 43, is also on trial for the attempted murder of the man who will be the main witness. That man’s name is protected by a publication ban.
(For ease of reading, Black Press will refer to this person using the pseudonym “Jim.”)
Himpfen’s co-accused Gavin Grewal, 30, was set to be part of the same trial on a charge of manslaughter in Johnson’s death and the attempted murder of “Jim.”
But Grewal, whom police have previously described as an Abbotsford gang leader, was killed in a targeted hit in North Vancouver on Dec. 22.
Crisp said Jim will outline in his upcoming testimony – expected to start next week – that he knew Himpfen through the drug trade and that the two first met in 2004. They were in daily contact at that time, but had a falling out a couple of years later.
The two re-connected during a jail stint together and again at a halfway house in the summer of 2009, Crisp said.
Jim knew Grewal – who was often referred to by his nickname “Gurp” – because he sold drugs for him.
He said Jim will testify that he had a meeting a couple of days before the shooting where he was warned by a man known as “Long-Haired Garry” that Himpfen was “going to get (him).”
Crisp said that on the morning of the killing, Jim and Grewal exchanged text messages and arranged to meet at around 3 a.m. on Polar Avenue.
The two travelled in separate cars – Johnson had arrived in a Chevy Tahoe with Jim – and got out to speak to each other.
After a few moments, Himpfen emerged from the back of Grewal’s car and was wearing dark clothing and a dark toque, Crisp said.
“But (Jim) was able to clearly see his face, and clearly saw a gun. So he started running towards the property he was on,” he said.
He said Himpfen fired shots at Jim, who then heard Johnson scream. Jim turned around and saw Himpfen “shoot at her several times through the open car window,” Crisp said.
The others left the scene, and Jim ran to Johnson, saw she had been shot and called 911.
Crisp said Johnson died on the scene, and an autopsy confirmed she has been shot in both the head and torso.
Peter Dahl, a resident on Polar Avenue, testified that on the morning of the shooting he heard six to seven “rapid-fire” gunshots. He said he looked out his window and saw a man frantically pacing, while moaning in agony.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Patrick Dyck, who was then a constable, was among the first officers on scene. He said he arrived to find Jim pacing back and forth and crying hysterically as another officer was trying to console him.
On the passenger side of the parked Chevy Tahoe, the door was open and Johnson – the single mom of a young daughter – was lying on the ground with gunshot wounds to her head.
Dyck said Jim indicated that Himpfen was the shooter, that Grewal had also been on the scene and that they had fled in a silver or grey car driven by a third man whom he was not able to identify.
Crisp said nine spent shell casings were found at the scene and three shell fragments were found in the vehicle.
Defence lawyer Kevin Westell described the trial as an “identification case” – a matter of proving who actually pulled the trigger.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.