The accused in a second-degree murder trial took the stand today in Kamloops Supreme Court to testify before a jury about incidents that took place in February 2017.
Stephen Fraser was called as a witness Wednesday (Dec. 5) to recount the night's events on Feb. 11, 2017, which resulted in the death of 26-year-old Cody Foster. But his account of the fight in Foster's trailer in the Dallas RV Park left a large gap to be filled in, as Fraser says the two began fighting around 5:15 p.m. Police arrived on scene around 9:50 p.m. after Fraser alerted a nearby family that something was wrong around 9:30 p.m.
The two went to Foster's trailer around 4:30 p.m., and after the victim paid his landlady money owed before, they had a couple of drinks and a joint. Then, according to Fraser, the struggle started after Foster told him, "I really don't want to kill you... but I've got no choice."
"The last thing he said was that he was with the Independent Soldiers and he was just a guy that had to follow orders," says Fraser, who had no explanation as to why the gang would want to kill him.
At the time of saying this, Foster had no weapons on him, but Fraser feared the 26-year-old's hands were dangerous enough. So when the victim allegedly went to hug him saying "it was nothing personal," Fraser grabbed a nearby knife and plunged it into his neck. Despite that action, he told Crown prosecutors during cross-examination he had no intention of killing him.
"I could've stabbed him in a lot of other places that would've been more likely to cause death," he says.
The seven-centimetre knife broke off in the victim's neck and apparently had no effect on him, as he continued to struggle with Fraser and the two fell back onto a table. The fight continued onto a pet carrier that Fraser was converting for his rats to live in, and he struck the victim several more times in the face, the court heard.
"It was like hitting a mannequin or a robot; hitting him wasn't doing anything," he says.
Shortly after, he tried to leave but Foster still held him.
Around that time, the accused says he started blacking out, during which he had "a dream about swinging this knife with my left hand at him while he was trying to grab it out of my hand with his right arm." The second knife was a "baby buck" fishing knife Fraser had in his back left pocket. Foster died from a stab wound to his carotid artery.
When he woke up around four hours later, he took off from the trailer in his T-shirt and socks and began yelling for help. He encountered the Nielsen family, who went and found the body and their son Jeffery Jr. restrained Fraser until police arrived.
The Crown challenged several inconsistencies with his testimony. Fraser claims he had been with the victim since around 3 p.m. and only saw Foster drink two beers in his presence, but toxicology reports showed his blood alcohol content was 0.278, three times the legal limit.
Dr. Stephen James also testified earlier in the trial that it was unlikely that the lacerations on Foster's face could've been made by a human fist, but Fraser disagreed with that account, saying "he had access to no other item." A vodka bottle that was later seized as evidence was apparently over on the counter, out of reach during the struggle.
Despite blacking out for a lengthy period, Fraser confidently denied wiping the victim's face with a towel and placing his jacket near the body. He thought somebody else did so afterward.
Fraser and Foster had been friends for about 14 months leading up to the event, after the accused helped the victim when his truck was trapped in the snow. They would hang out a couple times a week and Fraser says he was "like a kid brother." Despite being unemployed at the time, he would even help the struggling Foster buy groceries from time to time, and had allegedly loaned him $300 that had yet to be paid back.
The accused was set to move to the Yukon for work around the time of the incident.
Along with Fraser, the defence also called Bill Faryna and Gary Christopherson, who both worked with Fraser and Foster at Adwood Manufacturing, as witnesses earlier in the morning. They closed their case at the end of the day Wednesday. Closing statements from both sides will be heard next Tuesday (Dec. 11) and the jury should begin deliberations on Wednesday (Dec. 12).