PENTICTON - Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski continued to pummel accused murderer John Koopmans with questions regarding Koopmans’ strange social behaviour the night three people were shot in Princeton.
In Koopmans' third day on the stand in his own defence today, March 30, Dubenski demanded to know why he would walk for miles late in the evening of March 30, 2013, to visit people he barely knew, without contacting them first.
Koopmans is charged with the second-degree murders of Keith Wharton and Rose Fox on the night on March 30, 2013, in a double-wide modular home on the Wharton property in Princeton. He also faces a charge of attempted murder of Bradley Martin, who survived gunshot wounds in the incident.
Koopmans claimed he left his girlfriend’s house with a bottle of vodka after a drunken argument, intending to walk to the Wharton residence where he planned to “have some drinks and play some board games.” He made the half hour walk to Wharton’s, only to find the residence in darkness, so Koopmans said he walked an additional "four or five miles" to the residence of a neighbour, John Allison. He said he found that residence in darkness too, and returned to the Wharton property where he noticed police cruisers in the yard. He then retired to a camper he sometimes slept in at the back of the property.
“You don't know how long you were out there walking - how far did you carry on?” Dubenski asked.
“Four or five miles, I guess. It seemed like I walked for a long, long time,” Koopmans replied.
“At longest, how long would you say you were out there? And you were still drinking from the bottle?” Dubenski asked, to which Koopmans responded he had no idea.
“You had access to a phone earlier in the evening, your cell phone was working. You could have told them you were coming out,” Dubenski said.
“I could have if I had thought about it,” Koopmans replied.
“Had you ever gone to drink at John Allison’s?” Dubenski asked, to which Koopmans said,”no,” admitting he had never met Allison’s wife either.
“And you just thought you would go out and have a drink with him?” Dubenski asked.
Koopmans said he saw the police cruisers on the property and took a back route to his camper, figuring his friend was being busted for drug possession. He said didn’t want to approach the police because he had been drinking.
“You didn’t want to approach because you had liquor in the bottle. You weren’t driving, you were walking. You could have dropped the bottle,” said Dubenski, who also suggested Koopmans could not have seen the police cruisers from Koopmans’ location on Old Hedley Road because of the topography, a suggestion denied by Koopmans.
“Were you surprised to see the police cars? Worried about your friend?” Dubenski asked.
Koopmans said nothing crossed his mind but possible drug infractions.
Dubenski suggested Koopmans believed Wharton responsible for a break and enter that occurred on Koopmans' property a month prior to the killings.
“I suggest you were thinking about revenge. You could have been thinking about this for a month. What about you being a little under the influence of alcohol, and pretty angry that night? You were going there to settle a score,” Dubenski said.
Koopmans denied that.
Dubenski also questioned Koopmans about Wharton’s blood found on Koopmans’ clothing. Koopmans said 10 days prior to the murders, he and Wharton were sorting lumber when Wharton received a large sliver in his left hand.
He said he helped Wharton treat the wound, while it bled “a couple of teaspoons” onto a trailer where Wharton’s small dog was sitting. Koopmans said the dog lapped it up, then sneezed, scattering droplets all over Koopmans. No one else was on scene at the time to witness the incident.
“I suggest that story is total fabrication,” said Dubenski.
“Keith’s dog always hung out with us. He was standing on the lumber piled on the trailer. I saw the dog lick that blood up. Keith let the dog lick his thumb,” said Koopmans, who added he “felt the sneeze on my face.” Koopmans said that was the only reason he could think of for having Wharton’s blood on him.
“I’m suggesting you made it up - you were there when you shot him, that’s why you have his blood on him,” Dubenski charged.
“No,” Koopmans replied.
The last witness is expected to testify tomorrow following which arguments and summaries of both counsel will take place. Earlier in the day, Justice Marion Maisonville told the jury they would not be sitting over the Easter weekend.
For more stories on the Koopmans trial, click here.
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