Accused in Humpback Road shooting found guilty of first-degree murder

Guilty in fatal shooting

Damien Medwedrich, 28, was ­convicted Friday of ­first-degree murder in the death of ­26-year-old Alex Knatchbell, who was lured to a secluded area in ­Langford in January 2020 and shot 12 times.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Veronica Jackson spent nearly 3½ hours giving her reasons before delivering the guilty ­verdict in the judge-only trial.

The victim’s mother, Cheryl Chalifour, stood holding a framed photo of a smiling Knatchbell sitting on a beach and watched as Medwedrich was handcuffed and removed from the courtroom. ­

Medwedrich did not react to the verdict.

“I just want him to realize the magnitude of the decisions that he made that day. That he took this life and it’s not something to be forgotten, what he decided to do. I want him to see Alex’s face. I want him to remember this is the life he took,” she said outside the courthouse.

The guilty verdict gave her faith “that there is justice in this world,” she said.

Chalifour broke down in tears, hugging police officers and thanking them for their work.

Officers spent two years collecting evidence after Knatchbell’s death to the time Medwedrich was charged with first-degree murder in 2022, and throughout the investigation officers heard how loved her son was, she said.

He cherished Sunday ­dinners and camping trips with his ­family, Chalifour said.

The courtroom was filled with Knatchbell’s family, including his two sisters, his grandmother, his aunt and uncle, and his ­girlfriend.

Knatchbell was described as a drug dealer during the trial, but Chalifour said she didn’t know her son was involved in selling drugs.

“This wasn’t the life that was meant for him. It really wasn’t. He’s more than that. He’s a good guy and he really matters,” she said.

Knatchbell’s younger sister called him “the best big brother anyone could ever ask for.” He always made sure she knew how much he loved her, Katarina Chalifour said.

“I’m just so filled with relief today,” she said.

Jackson’s verdict means the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Medwedrich was the shooter and the killing was planned and deliberate.

The court heard that Knatchbell’s body was found by first responders about 11:35 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2020, slumped in the driver’s seat of his Nissan Pathfinder, which had crashed into a tree and was blocking Humpback Road. He had been shot in the arm, neck and torso and died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The guilty verdict relied on a video taken by a key Crown witness that captured Medwedrich speaking on the phone after the shooting.

In the video, Medwedrich said, “I did it, and then he f***ing crashed the tree, crashed the car into the tree,” and “I didn’t get any money out of him, but like, yo, it’s done. Done. Done.”

Jackson found those statements confirmed the plan was to murder Knatchbell and the plan had been accomplished.

The video was shot by a key Crown witness who cannot be named due to a publication ban. The court heard the witness was in a vehicle with Medwedrich at the scene of the shooting on Humpback Road.

Defence lawyer Sarah Runyon had asked Jackson to consider the witness a “Vetrovec” witness, meaning he was an unsavoury and disreputable witness whose testimony requires special scrutiny. She argued the person was an unreliable witness who had given conflicting statements and has lied to police and the court, and had motivation to lie to ­protect himself.

Jackson agreed that the witness’s testimony was inconsistent and not credible and she found he “gravely minimized his knowledge of and involvement” in the murder. However, she found his testimony that Medwedrich was the shooter was corroborated by the video he took.

A date for a sentencing hearing has not yet been set. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

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