NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – The lawyer for a man accused of murdering a police officer in Abbotsford, B.C., will not call a defence in the trial.
Martin Peters, who represents Oscar Arfmann, told the B.C. Supreme Court judge on Wednesday that there has been a change of plans, Arfmann will not be testifying and no evidence will be presented for the defence.
Peters told reporters outside court that defence clients typically have two big decisions to make: to plead guilty or not guilty and whether to take the stand.
“Are you going to testify or not is a big one and it’s really up to the client. So when I say there was a change of instructions, those instructions came from Mr. Arfmann. He changed his mind,” Peters said.
Peters could not comment on why Arfmann changed his mind on Tuesday morning, saying it was a matter of privilege.
Arfmann is accused of shooting Const. John Davidson from behind, moments after the officer got out of his vehicle while responding to a report of a possible stolen car on Nov. 6, 2017.
Crown attorney Theresa Iandiorio said in her opening statement at the trial in May that Arfmann “ambushed” Davidson, shot him, then stood over his unmoving body and shot again.
Arfmann has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the trial by judge alone.
Davidson, 53, had been with the Fraser Valley police department for 11 years.
Peters said that in general, a defendant in a murder trial would testify on his own behalf if his lawyers can make a “positive” argument of self-defence, drunkenness or if he has an alibi.
“In those cases, you would almost always call your client … because the only way to really present those defences is in a positive fashion,” Peters said. “In this case we have none of those going for us, so it’s really a question of can the Crown prove their case.”
Allowing a defendant to testify also means he will be subject to questioning by Crown prosecutors.
“I think there’s a general reluctance for defence counsel to expose their client to cross-examination, particularly in a case like this in which there has been a considerable amount of Crown evidence that would have to be addressed by the client on the stand,” Peters said. “Not calling our client avoids that.”
Closing arguments in the case are scheduled to begin Aug. 1 and 2.