KELOWNA – Accused murderer Daniel Ruff’s lawyer says his client was trying to defend himself from a younger, larger man who attacked him during a drunken fight two years ago.
Ruff, born in 1952, is charged with second-degree murder for striking his roommate Welters in the head and killing him on the evening of June 14, 2015.
Ruff admits he killed Welters with a hammer, but says it was in self-defence during an all-day party at their Bernard Avenue house.
Crown lawyer Colin Forsyth concluded his case against Ruff in Kelowna Supreme Court today, Oct. 23, after a trial that began Oct. 3.
Forsyth's version of events starts when Welters came downstairs in “a state of advanced intoxication” during a party and made an insulting comment about one of the female party guests. Welters then returned to his room upstairs and went to sleep.
Ruff went to a nearby grocery store to buy meat for the barbecue, during which time most of the guests left.
He arrived home around 8 p.m. and, according to the Crown lawyer, got a hammer from a closet, went upstairs where Welters was either asleep or passed out, and hit him four times in the back of his head.
Ruff says Welters “jumped” him when he returned from shopping, that they struggled until he was able to push Welters into his bedroom. He says Welters ended up on top of him with his hands around Ruff’s neck. He says that’s when he remembered a hammer in a closet nearby, was able to reach it and struck Welters in the back of the head.
Forsyth calls Ruff’s version of the events “implausible, self-serving and untrue."
He says the one remaining houseguest would surely have heard a struggle taking place and that Ruff's actions after the death are further proof of his guilt.
“He then leaves the bedroom, closes door... walks to bathroom where he cleans the hammer, washes it... cleans himself, his hands his arms, his face... puts the hammer back in the closet, goes to the bedroom and changes his shirt,” Forsyth said today.
“There’s no planning or deliberation of any extent... but that doesn’t mean Ruff didn’t intend to kill him," he said. "The blows were to the back of the head. None to the body. These weren’t defensive blows. They weren’t flailing type blows... they were targeted.”
First responders testified they found Welters face down in a pool of blood on his bed.
"(Welters) was defenseless when he was stuck in the back of the head,” Forsyth said.
Defence lawyer Grant Gray says Ruff admits to lying to police during the early stages of the investigation, but that he was too intoxicated to know what he was doing.
After returning the hammer to the closet and changing his clothes, Ruff called 911 and told dispatch he had just got home and found Welters dead in his bedroom.
“Sometimes people lie for innocent reasons,” Gray said. “Fear, panic, confusion, intoxication, trauma, shock. Concerns don’t translate to proof.”
The 12 members of the jury will receive final instructions from Justice Allison Beames this afternoon, Oct. 23, and should begin deliberating within the next 24 hours and deliver a verdict sometime after.
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