PENTICTON — Two people from Princeton were shot to death and another was seriously wounded because the gunman was "crushed" and betrayed by his belief they broke into his home and stole from him, a Crown prosecutor told the jury today, Feb. 25, in the opening of the murder trial of John Ike Koopmans.
Koopmans is on trial for the first degree murders of Robert Wharton, 43, and Rose Fox, 32, at Wharton's home at 331 Old Hedley Road on March 30, 2013. He is also charged with attempted murder of Bradley Martin.
Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski summarized the upcoming trial, expected to last three to six weeks. He said he expected to produce evidence showing that Robert Wharton and Rose Fox were both killed March 30, 2013, and that Bradley Martin, who was wounded in the chest, was shot first.
He said Martin was watching television at the Wharton house on the night they were killed, when Koopmans arrived at the door unexpectedly. He went to a rear bedroom to speak with Wharton and Fox. Martin overheard the conversation, eventually became concerned, and went to the bedroom.
As Martin entered, Koopmans pulled a gun and fired, hitting Martin in the upper right chest.
Martin was able to flee the residence, but never saw his friends alive again.
Dubenski said evidence would also show that police secured the crime scene. Jurors would hear and see descriptions of the position of the bodies, how many shots were fired, and evidence of a relationship Koopmans had with a Princeton resident located on Tulameen Avenue, where a black leather chair containing evidence and belonging to Koopmans, was found.
The jurors are expected to further hear of evidence linking Koopmans’ DNA with evidence, including two handguns that were capable of discharging the bullet fragments recovered from the victims’ bodies.
Dubenski said evidence would show one of these guns discovered by a camper 30 kilometres away from the crime scene in July, 2014, and the other found in the Similkameen River behind 331 Old Hedley Road during a police dive search in October, 2013.
Forensics testing for victim’s blood performed on Koopmans clothing will also reveal the victim’s DNA on Koopmans’ clothing, Dubenski said.
Defence lawyer Don Skogstad introduced himself and his team to the jury following Dubenski’s summary. He advised the jury to pay special attention to two witnesses expected to provide testimony in the upcoming weeks.
First witness to be called was Southeast District Major Crime Unit’s Tim Russell, who provided a description of the crime scene in the hours following the incident.
The trial continues tomorrow.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at email@example.com or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.