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Witness grilled for second day about fatal shooting on Humpback Road

The witness, whose identity is protected by court order, was on the stand for the third day at Damien Medwedrich’s trial for the first-degree murder of Alex Knatchbell on Jan 20, 2020.
The 3100-block Humpback Road is closed by police in the wake of the shooting on Jan. 21, 2020. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A key Crown witness told police he had been drinking and doing cocaine before a fatal shooting on Humpback Road four years ago, B.C. Supreme Court trial heard Wednesday.

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

Court heard that the witness gave a statement to West Shore RCMP the day after the killing because Knatchbell, 26, was his friend.

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

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

The witness, who testified behind a protective screen, was grilled for a second day by criminal defence lawyer Sarah Runyon. The man, who had significant struggles with learning disabilities and addiction, repeatedly said his memory was exhausted because he’d been trying to forget what happened that night.

He agreed with Runyon that three years before the murder of Knatchbell, he had spiralled downward and was hanging out with the wrong crowd, drinking, doing drugs and owed money because of his drug habit. His drug use had also caused significant mental-health issues, he agreed.

Runyon referred the witness to his police statements, where he told officers he used cocaine once a month and drugs were not an issue for him.

“That was a lie,” said Runyon. “Drug use was really an issue for you in 2020.”

“I guess,” he replied.

Runyon suggested it was the witness’s idea to hook Medwedrich up with Knatchbell that night because he trusted Knatchbell to supply him with clean drugs.

She asked the witness why he told police it was easier for Medwedrich to use his phone to arrange to meet Knatchbell and buy drugs, considering Medwedrich was driving a standard vehicle and was also drinking.

The witness replied it was easier because Medwedrich was the one who wanted the drugs.

The witness told police he and Medwedrich waited in the car on Humpback Road for 20 to 25 minutes. When Medwedrich got out of the car, he heard the trunk close, then heard shots fired.

“But you tell police you never saw a gun,” said Runyon.

The witness was unable to tell police what Medwedrich was wearing that night or where the car was stopped. He couldn’t tell police what Knatchbell’s car looked like and couldn’t remember the drive home.

“I was more like panicking and listening to what he was saying,” the witness said.

Runyon suggested the witness couldn’t remember if it was just him and Medwedrich in the car that night.

The witness disagreed.

“I have a memory of just us in the vehicle with a bunch of trash in the back … I know it was just us,” he testified.

The witness told police Medwedrich was driving like a maniac on the drive away from Humpback Road.

“I actually thought I was going to die,” he said in his statement.

The witness also told police he came to the detachment because Knatchbell was his friend and he wanted closure.

On Tuesday, court watched a video the witness recorded on his cellphone as Medwedrich drove away from Humpback Road that night.

Justice Veronica Jackson, who is presiding over the judge-alone trial, will rule on the admissibility of the video.

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