Manslaughter trial opens for 2 men accused of Canada Day stabbing in Kelowna

Manslaughter trial opens

What is expected to be a lengthy trial opened Monday for two men accused of manslaughter related to a stabbing downtown Kelowna during Canada Day celebrations in 2018.

Nathan Truant, 28, and Noah Vaten, 22, each entered not guilty pleas in Kelowna court, denying responsibility for the death of 23-year-old Esa Carriere.

Truant and Vaten along with two youths were charged with manslaughter in January 2019 after an investigation into a fatal swarming attack on Carriere near the Queensway bus loop.

One of the youths involved has since pleaded guilty to a count of assault while the other youth will go to trial after Truant and Vaten.

During his opening statements Monday morning, Crown prosecutor Martin Nadon provided a synopsis of his case, which he said would be supported by video evidence and more than two dozen witnesses.

Nadon’s opening statements are yet to be proven and should only be viewed as an outline of the prosecution's plans.

As Canada Day fireworks rang out over Kelowna at 10:45 p.m. on July 1, 2018, Nadon said Carriere was involved in some type of dispute with a group of people that had congregated near the closed entrance of the Kasugai Gardens next to city hall.

Nadon said Carriere “may” have struck Vaten prior to taking off on foot. Four people gave chase, which the Crown alleges to be Vaten, Truant and the two youths. Video surveillance captured the chase and attack, which took about 15 seconds after Carriere fell to the ground, but the cameras were unable to provide a positive identification of any suspects. Nadon said it is the Crown's "theory" that Vaten was the one who actually fatally stabbed Carriere in heart.

Nadon says two security guards came upon the attack and detained one of the youths. The other youth involved waited for police, while the Crown alleges Vaten and Truant left the area with a group.

Nadon says video surveillance gathered from BC Transit and surrounding businesses tracked the group as it made its way away from the crime scene. In one of the videos, Nadon says a member of the group is seen wiping something on a curb. RCMP would later find Carriere’s DNA on that curb.

The Crown says more video evidence will show Truant returned to his home in Rutland at 1:40 a.m. By that time, Carriere had been pronounced dead at Kelowna General Hospital for over an hour.

Vaten was arrested that night for causing a disturbance at the Rutland Community Policing office at 1:30 a.m. and placed in cells. At the time, police had not connected him to the downtown stabbing.

The Crown alleges that Vaten confessed to another man being held in cells, but that man never took Vaten seriously as he was unaware of the downtown killing at the time. Vaten would be released from cells the next morning and returned to his home in Rutland. Police then followed up with Vaten's cellmate once his alleged link to the killing became apparent.

Nadon said Crown witnesses will include several police officers, civilian bystanders and youth and adults who were with the two accused that night.

The Crown’s case is expected to run nearly three full weeks, after which time the defense will have the option to bring its own evidence if they choose. The trial is expected to involved multiple voir dires — trials within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence — and at least one Charter challenge.

Carriere had recently moved to Kelowna from Mississauga, Ont. prior to his death. He had been working as a cook at Kelly O'Bryan's restaurant on Bernard Avenue. Coworkers remembered him as a “genuinely nice person” who always had a smile.

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