Closing arguments began Thursday in the trial of the accused killer of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson, with Crown counsel arguing that testimony from witnesses, forensics, and surveillance video all firmly connects Oscar Arfmann to Davidson’s death.
Davidson, 53, was killed Nov, 6, 2017, at a business complex on Mt. Lehman Road when he was the first to arrive on the scene of a shots-fired call.
Arfmann was arrested in a stolen black Mustang not far from the scene after a police pursuit that involved ramming the vehicle and shooting at Arfmann.
Crown counsel Wendy Stephen said there is no doubt that Arfmann was the same man who witnesses saw at the business complex prior to the shooting, and who then shot and killed Davidson and fled from the scene.
“This real issue in this case is can Crown prove that the same man, in the same Mustang, with the same gun is the one who shot Const. Davidson, and we say we can do that,” Stephen said in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
She said Crown had presented “a host of honest, credible and reliable” witnesses through the course of the judge-only trial.
Arfmann’s first-degree murder trial began in May, and witnesses included two employees from the nearby Fraser Valley Automall who testified that they noticed a stolen Mustang of theirs in the Mt. Lehman business complex prior to the shooting.
When they blocked in the stolen vehicle, Arfmann approached them and fired two shots, they testified. Their call to police resulted in Davidson arriving on the scene.
Stephen detailed the different witness accounts, stating that all who testified gave similar descriptions of seeing an older man wearing a black leather jacket, a checkered shirt and a baseball cap, and driving a black Mustang.
Some provided the car’s licence plate or noticed that the plate was from Alberta, Stephen said.
Witness Larry Seifert had followed the suspect as he drove out of the Mt. Lehman business complex after shots were fired at a blue pickup truck and before Const. Davidson was shot. Seifert then followed him back into the complex.
— Vikki Hopes (@VikkiHopes) August 1, 2019
I was mistaken that nobody had witnessed the actual shooting. Stephen said anemployee at a different business ran out after hearing a shot, saw a police officer on the ground and noticed a man in a black leather jacket pointing a long-barrelled gun at the officer and fire a shot.
— Vikki Hopes (@VikkiHopes) August 1, 2019
Other witnesses, including one who followed the Mustang as it left the business complex and then returned, said they saw the man holding a rifle.
But only one person indicated that he saw a shot being fired at Davidson. That witness, an employee at one of the nearby businesses, said he heard a shot, looked out the window and saw a police officer on the ground and a man in a black leather jacket holding a rifle.
The man was standing about three or four feet away from the officer, pointed the gun down towards him and fired a shot, the witness testified. The witness then took pictures of a black Mustang as it left the complex.
On dashcam video from another witness, who had been in the nearby Starbucks at the time of the shooting, two loud shots can be heard and a black Mustang can be seen driving away. But the footage did not capture the shooting itself.
Surveillance video from Starbucks shows Davidson’s white police truck pulling up near the black Mustang, and Mustang driving away, but the view of the truck blocks the shooting.
Stephen said that when Arfmann was arrested about eight or nine minutes after the initial 911 call, the items found in the black Mustang he was driving included three knives, a loaded rifle, ammunition, and a passport and other ID in his name.
Stephen said forensic testing later showed that blood found on the rifle matched Arfmann’s DNA.
The Crown concluded their arguments Thursday afternoon, and lawyer Martin Peters began defence arguments by saying the Crown’s case had “very significant problems,” including the “reliability and credibility” of the witnesses.
“The case is not as strong as it looks,” he said.
Peters said the case is circumstantial and lacks direct evidence that ties together the gun, car and suspect. He said the Crown has failed to prove that Arfmann was even on the scene when Davidson was killed.
Arfmann was originally supposed to testify on July 24, but changed his mind, and no other defence witnesses were called.
Peters continues his arguments on Friday, after which Justice Carol Ross could render her verdictor or reserve judgment for a later date.
If Ross finds Arfmann guilty, there will be no sentencing hearing, as a first-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.