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Defence says key Crown witness was responsible for fatal shooting on Humpback Road

The witness, whose identity is protected by court order, denies he shot Alex Knatchbell on Jan. 20, 2020

A key Crown witness has denied that he was the one who shot and killed a 26-year-old Victoria man after a botched robbery on Humpback Road four years ago.

The witness, whose identity is protected by court order, took the stand for the fourth day at Damien Medwedrich’s trial for the first-degree murder of Alex Knatchbell on Jan. 20, 2020.

The Crown is alleging that Medwedrich lured Knatchbell, a known drug dealer, to Humpback Road that night to buy drugs, then shot him 12 times.

The witness has testified that Medwedrich came by his mother’s house and picked him up, then took his phone and arranged to buy drugs from Knatchbell. They drove to Humpback Road and parked on the side of the road. Then Medwedrich got out of the car and shot Knatchbell, he said.

Criminal defence lawyer Sarah Runyon challenged that version of events on Thursday, suggesting to the witness that he asked Medwedrich to help him rob Knatchbell that night.

The witness did not agree.

“I am going to suggest that he agreed to drive you to the robbery and he did agree to assist you in that robbery in exchange for drugs and money,” said Runyon.

The witness denied the allegation.

Runyon suggested that the witness knew Medwedrich would agree to help him because he was homeless, broke, addicted to drugs and had been to jail, so he was not afraid of committing crimes.

“Not really,” the witness replied.

Runyon suggested that once the witness confirmed Knatchbell was working alone and had drugs and money in his car, he and Medwedrich set out to meet Knatchbell on the dark, remote stretch of road.

The witness did not agree.

The witness and Medwedrich discussed their plans to rob Knatchbell in the days leading up to the murder, Runyon charged.

“I am going to suggest to you that you told Damien you had a way of getting a lot of drugs and a lot of money out of Mr. Knatchbell,” she said.

“No,” the witness replied.

“I am going to suggest that you knew he had a lot of drugs and a lot of money at that time because you were selling crack cocaine all over the West Shore for Mr. Knatchbell,” said Runyon.

When the witness waved at Medwedrich on Facebook and wrote “I’m in,” that was his way of telling him he still wanted to rob Knatchbell that night, Runyon charged.

“I never said that,” the witness replied.

The witness knew the robbery was going to unfold that night and that’s why he spent the day doing drugs and drinking to excess, said Runyon.

The two men devised a plan as they waited on Humpback Road for Knatchbell to arrive. Medwedrich would go to the front passenger window to get his drugs. The witness would go to the rear passenger door and pull out the gun he had seen earlier that day when he bought drugs from Knatchbell — “a gun that you knew was always there from driving Knatchbell around as one of his workers,” said Runyon.

“That’s why you never saw a gun in Damien’s car… and that’s why you tell police you never saw Damien holding the gun, because you were holding the gun.”

Runyon suggested that when Knatchbell attempted to flee, the witness thought he was going to get run over.

“And while you’re high on cocaine and drunk on alcohol, it’s you, you start firing that gun, isn’t it,” Runyon charged.

“No,” the witness replied.

“I’m going to suggest that while you never had a plan to shoot Mr. Knatchbell, when that vehicle started to flee, it was you who started firing the gun. And when that vehicle came to a stop, the two of you started rummaging around for drugs and money and you couldn’t find any, could you?” Runyon said.

“I wasn’t looking,” the witness said.

The criminal defence lawyer suggested that on the drive home, the witness realized the gravity of what had happened and made a video recording of Medwedrich talking on the phone about what happened.

Runyon suggested that the witness recorded more than the “tiny sliver” seen by the court and that the witness selected the one recording that made him look innocent.

The witness denied deleting any videos.

“You were concerned because you fired that gun. That’s why you haven’t told police how Mr. Knatchbell was shot.”

“I told you guys everything I know. It was the truth,” the witness replied.

The trial continues today.

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