Ian Michael Hewitt will admit to helping dispose of Angela Crossman’s body but deny stabbing and killing the Abbotsford woman in 2009, his lawyer told a jury during the defence’s opening statements at Hewitt’s first-degree murder trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
Defence lawyer Daniel Henderson said his client falsely confessed when he told friends, undercover officers, and homicide investigators that he killed Crossman. Instead, Henderson said Hewitt will testify that it was his now-dead best friend Alex Paul who killed Crossman.
Hewitt and Crossman were both staying at Paul’s Hillcrest Avenue home at the time of the killing. The Crown alleges that Paul asked Hewitt to kill Crossman because the 39-year-old woman, who suffered from mental health problems, was causing problems at home, where his wife and two children also lived.
During a complex police sting, Hewitt told undercover officers that in the early-morning hours of June 11, 2009, he choked and stabbed Crossman and slit her throat at Elbow Lake, near Harrison Lake. Her body was found later that day.
But in laying out the defence’s case Tuesday after the Crown made its opening statements, Henderson said it was Paul who, after returning home from a nearby pub drunk and upset, strangled Crossman in his backyard while Hewitt was inside. Henderson said Paul then commissioned Hewitt, with whom he’d been drinking, to help dispose of the body.
Paul then drove the body to Elbow Lake, where the body was dumped, according to the defence’s narrative. Hewitt will testify, Henderson said, that Paul later told him that at Elbow Lake he stabbed and cut the throat of Crossman’s body to give the appearance that a serial killer had murdered her.
Paul is now dead, having been shot by a friend after an altercation less than a month after Crossman’s killing. That friend cited self-defence and was later acquitted of second-degree murder. Hewitt was present at the site of that killing as well. Henderson said Paul was known to be “unpredictable and violent” when he was drunk and upset.
Henderson said Hewitt will recant his confessions. Hewitt was recruited by a friend who became a police agent, and who said he worked for a criminal organization as a hitman. The players in various scenarios staged to draw Hewitt in were undercover police officers.
The trial is expected to last five months.