The man who shot and killed Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson in 2017 will no longer have a hearing to determine whether he was “not criminally responsible” (NCR) for the offence.
In a surprise turn of events, it was declared in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday morning that the matter will now proceed to a hearing on Feb. 3 for victim-impact statements to be heard and other matters to be dealt with.
The pronouncement means that Arfmann, who was convicted of first-degree murder on Oct. 10 by Justice Carol Ross, will now receive an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Later in the day, Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr issued a statement: “The Abbotsford Police Department is pleased with today’s decision that the person who killed Const. John Davidson will receive a life sentence and Const. Davidson’s family and witnesses will not have to go through an [NCR hearing]. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this outcome and all the amazing support we have received.”
At the time Justice Ross rendered her verdict, she agreed that a hearing could be held to determine whether Arfmann had the capacity to appreciate his actions and know right from wrong at the time he killed Davidson on Nov. 6, 2017.
That hearing was scheduled from Feb. 3 to 28 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Another assessment on Arfmann’s mental health was scheduled to take place by Nov. 29.
Evidence that was not presented at Arfmann’s trial last year – including his mental-health history and statements from his family – had been expected to be presented at the NCR hearing in February.
An NCR ruling after the hearing would have placed Arfmann under the purview of the BC Review Board, which would have conducted an assessment to determine whether he should be detained in a hospital, discharged in the community under certain conditions or discharged without conditions.
Defence lawyer Martin Peters previously indicated in court that Arfmann had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
In Ross’s ruling on Oct. 10, she said she had no doubt that Arfmann was the man responsible for killing Davidson in the parking lot of a strip mall on Mt. Lehman Road.
Davidson was the first officer to arrive on the scene after reports were received of Arfmann firing shots at two Fraser Valley Auto Mall employees who confronted him about a vehicle he had stolen from there two days prior.
Arfmann was arrested not far from the scene after police chased him, crashed into the vehicle he was driving and shot at him.