A prosecutor maintains an eyewitness to a deadly 2018 Williams Lake shooting is credible even though the man didn’t initially disclose the identity of the shooter to police.
At the Kamloops Law Courts on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor David Sim made closing arguments in the trial of Wyatt Boffa, charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Jamie Baldwin, who died on Dec. 11, 2018.
Sim told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames he believed the Crown has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Boffa is guilty.
“These submissions are founded upon the eyewitness evidence of George Kalogerakos, who identified the accused as the shooter. … The Crown submits that Mr. Kalogerakos’ evidence is both credible, reliable and also corroborated by both physical exhibits and expert evidence,” Sim said.
Earlier this month, Kalogerakos testified he had been working on a truck on Baldwin’s property located on Mountain House Road when Boffa, co-accused Daine Stump and Stump’s mother Luaine arrived.
(Stump has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in connection with the shooting.)
Kalogerakos said the group went into Baldwin’s house where they had a brief conversation and smoked some crystal meth before the three visitors left abruptly.
Court heard Kalogerakos saw Boffa and Stump re-enter the house holding shotguns. He said he saw Boffa shoot Baldwin twice.
Kalogerakos said he heard one click — after which an unspent shotgun shell fell to the floor —followed by two bangs.
Kalogerakos said he called 911 after the shooting, but when questioned by the operator, he said he didn’t know who had shot Baldwin.
Court heard Kalogerakos initially told police that he had been working underneath the truck on Baldwin’s property when he heard gunshots, and didn’t see the people who entered the home.
Kalogerakos maintained he provided a full and accurate testimony to RCMP later on.
Sim said Kalogerakos initially withheld this information as he was afraid of retribution, and the witness proved to be “consistent and unwavering” in his testimony under cross-examination.
“Mr. Kalogerakos testified he was afraid for his safety and the safety of his family, which prevented him from giving a complete account and identification at that time,” Sim said.
“Given the circumstances where Mr. Kalogerakos is the sole witness of an incident which resulted in the death of his friend, I would submit that fear was substantiated. The Crown submits this failure to provide a full account of the incident, including the name of the shooter, was not a misidentification or an inability to identify the shooter at the time.”
Sim said elements of Kalogerakos’ testimony, such as events leading up to the shooting and the account of the shooting itself, was corroborated by other witnesses and evidence like shotgun shells found by police inside the house.
In his closing statement, defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen argued Kalogerakos was not a credible witness, was not truthful or forthcoming and had acted out of self-interest on the night of the incident.
Verdurmen referenced call logs showing Kalogerakos’ first call was not to 911, but to two people who had borrowed his car to run an errand in order to try to get the vehicle back.
“He wanted his car so he could leave,” Verdurmen said.
Verdurmen said Kalogerakos told court he was afraid for his safety after the shooting, but he was at one point inside a police car and then at the local detachment — both places where he should have felt safe enough to provide an accurate version of events.
“The reason why he was not forthcoming at the beginning was that he needed some time to weigh his options to consider what he was going to say to the police,” Verdurmen said.
He said when first responders arrived, Kalogerakos was the sole person on the property aside from the victim, and questioned why the witness was eliminated as a suspect so quickly by police.
“We argue that there is no exculpatory evidence to exclude him from the suspect category, but somehow, at this point, you could say that he was eliminated,” Verdurmen said.
He added he believes a police search of the multiple out buildings located on the rural property “were cursory at best,” with the police investigation failing to turn up physical evidence concerning the identity of the shooter.
Verdurmen said the Crown presented no physical evidence that Boffa was even on the property at the time of the shooting, only relying on testimony from Kalogerakos and Luaine Stump.
Verdurmen said he understands while the Crown does not need to produce a motive for the killing, there has been no information presented that would explain why Boffa intended to shoot Baldwin.
Kalogerakos had testified earlier that he heard what seemed to be a tense exchange between Boffa and Baldwin just minutes before the shooting took place.
Beames is expected to return to court with a verdict on Sept. 29.