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Key witness in Humpback Road murder trial unreliable, defence argues

Defence accuses man of lying to the court
The 3100 block of Humpback Road was closed following the fatal shooting of Alex Knatchbell on Jan. 20, 2020. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A key Crown witness in the trial of a West Shore man accused of shooting and killing a drug dealer has given ­conflicting statements and has no ­recollection of important events, the defence argued Monday.

The witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, took the stand for several days at the start of Damien Medwedrich’s trial for the ­first-degree murder of Alex Knatchbell on Jan. 20, 2020. The trial continued into its third week on Monday.

He previously testified that Medwedrich went to the house of the witness’s mother to pick him up, then took the witness’s phone and arranged to buy drugs from Knatchbell. They drove to Humpback Road and parked on the side of the road, where ­Medwedrich got out of the car. Then, the witness heard shots, he told the court. The two then drove back his mother’s house, where Medwedrich dropped him off.

During the drive, the ­witness recorded a video on his ­cellphone in which Medwedrich appears to be pinning the crime on the witness.

First responders found Knatchbell slumped in the front of his Nissan Pathfinder, which had crashed into a tree and was blocking the road.

The Crown has alleged that Medwedrich used the ­witness’s phone to lure Knatchbell, then shot him 12 times in the ­shoulder, neck and torso.

Defence lawyer Sarah Runyon argued the witness gave ­statements about his drug use and debts that didn’t make sense, and could not recall key parts of the night Knatchbell was killed, such as messages sent between him and the accused, whether he got out of the car when he and Medwedrich arrived on ­Humpback Road, and how long they were on the road.

“This is a witness who has conceded that entire events from his memory have been erased,” she said. Runyon argued it’s not the passage of time that prompted the lack of memory because the witness was unsure of some of the details in July 2020 when talking to police.

“He’s never remembered. At least he tells the police he’s never remembered,” Runyon said.

The witness told the court he bought cocaine about once a month and spent about $40 each time, and that he accumulated debts as a result of his drug use, Runyon said, calling it “inconceivable” that he could have debts from a small, monthly purchase while employed.

Asked how he could accumulate debts, the witness replied: “I don’t know. I just can’t ­remember,” Runyon said, ­reading from transcript of the testimony.

The witness said he gave money to his parents for living expenses, but his mother ­testified he never sent her or his father money, Runyon said.

“This is one of many ­examples that demonstrate, on this record, that he has no ­difficulty, no difficulty ­whatsoever, lying to this court,” she said.

The defence will continue its closing arguments today, ­followed by the Crown later in the week.

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