Kelowna murder trial resumes with physical distancing measures in place - InfoNews

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Kelowna murder trial resumes with physical distancing measures in place

Kelowna Law Courts.
June 01, 2020 - 1:15 PM

Evidence in defence of a Surrey man accused of bludgeoning his wife to death in 2018 while on holiday in West Kelowna will start being presented tomorrow, June 2 as the resumption of a trial that went on break months ago gets back underway. 

The re-start of the second degree murder trial for Tejwant Danjou started today June 1, but it was a shortlived court appearance for the accused.

Much of the focus was on how trial documents were or were not transferring smoothly during the hiatus as the system had to adapt to  COVID-19 and physical distancing measures that shut down a number of public spaces.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames had the court stand down once those issues were sorted and Crown counsel Simone McCallum said she’d concluded calling evidence. Lawyer Donna Turko will present evidence in defence of her client starting tomorrow, June 2.

Since the start of Crown’s case, the court heard that Rama Gauravarapu was found July 22, 2018 laying face up on the floor with her feet pointing towards the door once police arrived.

Multiple calls to 911 from the West Kelowna Best Western hotel had been made, with witnesses saying there was a conflict.

Gauravarapu’s condition supported those reports — she had two black eyes, a gash above her left eye and on both sides of her neck along with blood on her hands, on the wall and saturating the carpet.

There was a broken wine bottle and broken glass on the floor along with blood stains on the bed and the inside of the door. 

The trial also focused on their history, which was fraught with violence and acts of jealousy by Danjou towards Gauravarapu, who had been together since Dec. 31, 2015.

As for Danjou, who was 69 at the time of the crime, the court heard he’d been found that night hiding in a dumpster.

Const. Rick Goodwin said when he arrived at the scene, he "saw the top half of Danjou in the dumpster.” Goodwin lifted Danjou from the dumpster and, at some point shortly thereafter, arrested him for homicide.

In a tape played for the court, Goodwin can be heard saying, "I'm putting you under arrest for homicide, can you answer yes or no?"

"Maybe," Danjou said. "What is homicide?"

It’s expected that defence will focus on the mental state of Danjou, who has seemed to struggle with the court process.

As the trial got underway last February he delivered a surprise guilty plea, which he withdrew just a day later.

Danjou had been a real estate agent until news of the murder charge was circulated and his license was suspended by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia. Gauravarapu was employed at a Surrey Royal Bank branch.

As more trials resume, people may notice changes to the courthouse itself. Markings have been placed throughout the courthouse indicating which direction to walk, much like supermarkets.

Within courtrooms, rows of seats were taped off to encourage physical distancing, and lawyers were spaced out from one another and lawyers are spread out in front of judges six feet apart.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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