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Defence challenges witness's description of fight outside slain Winnipeg driver's bus
Jurors in the second degree murder trial of Brian Kyle Thomas, 24, heard testimony Thursday morning that said bus driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, 58, was beating up and hitting a passenger during a struggle outside his bus.
Thomas’s lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, elicited the testimony during cross examination of University of Manitoba student Ridwan Hazeez.
Roitenberg asked the 19-year-old Hazeez, “You were specifically asked by the police if you saw the bus driver hit the passenger, is that correct?”
“Yes,” Hazeez testified
Fraser was stabbed multiple times and died in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2017. Thomas has pleaded not guilty.
Jurors have previously watched security footage of a verbal and physical altercation between Fraser and Thomas on a bus parked on the U of M campus.
Hazeez testified under questioning by the Crown he was walking home toward Maclean Crescent after leaving a friend’s place on campus early the same morning when he saw a bus driver and a passenger in a struggle.
“The passenger spat on the driver,” Hazeez testified. “The bus driver was inside the bus.”
“When the passenger spat on the bus driver, the bus driver came out of the bus and they start fighting.”
Hazeez initially testified “the driver was trying to get him together...get him in control.”
Roitenberg challenged that description of the events based on a sworn statement Hazeez gave to police officers nine days after Fraser’s death.
“You would’ve told the police ‘hit him’ if you meant you meant hit him, correct?”
“Yes,” testified Hazeez.
Roitenberg asked Hazeez “You told them the truth about what you saw that night, correct?
Hazeez testified he agreed with the account given in his police statement: that he told detectives the driver was beating the man up and that the driver hit the passenger.
Under questioning by the Crown Hazeez testified the bus driver swept the passenger off his feet and took him to the ground during the struggle before the driver moved backwards from the passenger and toward bus.
“I saw blood on the floor,” Hazeez testified. “And I saw he was holding his neck.”
Hazeez testified the passenger “was holding a knife.”
He told court the passenger appeared to be intoxicated and ran off after stabbing the driver.
Officer gives account of pursuit
Winnipeg Police Service Const. David Crane testified he was dispatched to the scene of a stabbing on the U of M campus at 1:55 a.m.
He told court it was an extremely mild February day and ice conditions were treacherous as officers pursued a suspect in the stabbing on the frozen Red River.
“My boots immediately filled with water,” Crane testified. “I slipped a couple times walking that direction.”
Court heard Crane was concerned the ice was not safe.
“We’re on a river and we’re getting melting, I don’t know how much melting is going on… I’m a big guy.”
Crane testified the suspect was uncooperative when apprehended on the ice.
“When officers picked him up off the ground he lifted both his feet off the ground,” Crane testified. “At some point I saw the accused and four officers on the ice. They had all fallen down.”
“We wanted to get him off the ice and ourselves off the ice as soon as possible.”
Crane told court he observed blood on the suspect’s hands and said the suspect was taken to a cruiser car before Crane returned to the river bank to look for evidence.
The jury has heard it’s an agreed fact a knife found by officers two months later, on Apr. 17, 2017, on the east bank of the Red River did not contain any material for DNA testing and therefore cannot be linked to Fraser or Thomas through DNA evidence.
Jurors were also told it’s an agreed fact a scrape to the left cheek, scrapes and scratches to his chest, a scraped right knee and a sore left leg suffered by Thomas happened while he was being removed from the Red River by police.
The trial continues Monday.