PENTICTON - A Penticton judge could not find proof beyond reasonable doubt that a Penticton woman made threats and attempted to obstruct justice following a trial in Penticton court this morning.
Judge Gale Sinclair said Jilane Faith King probably did make a threat against Martin Lawrence Bujta, but said, “‘probably' doesn’t cut it,” dismissing charges of uttering threats, obstructing justice and breach today, March 22.
King was on trial for the Feb.10, 2016 incident in which Bujta claimed King accosted him on her blue bicycle while walking on Skaha Lake Road.
He told court she threatened to kill him if he showed up in court to testify against in an assault charge from an incident that occurred on Dec. 13, 2015, when King allegedly struck him after asking him for a cigarette.
King was on conditions not to approach Bujta at the time of the Feb. 10 incident.
Bujta testified under questioning from Crown Prosecutor Ann Lerechs he saw the cyclists’ face as she approached, describing her as “a dark haired, heavy-set native woman,” and pointing to her in the courtroom when asked.
He said he reported the threat to police immediately after it happened, saying he took it as a threat against his life, and that it frightened him.
However, under questioning from defence lawyer Kathryn Lundman, the 69-year-old said he couldn’t remember if he had been able to identify anyone in a photo line up he’d been shown, nor did he remember saying to police at one time he couldn’t say for sure the woman on the bike was the same one who assaulted him.
Lundman asked if any other conversation had taken place prior to the Dec. 13 assault, asking him if he asked King for oral sex.
“What? You gotta be kidding me. No,” Bujta responded.
King testified she had been drinking ‘quite a bit” the day of the assault, sharing a 40-ounce bottle of rum with a friend. She said she only remembered “bits and pieces” of what happened.
“I don’t remember meeting him,” she said of Bujta, but did recall talking to him outside and asking him for a smoke when he asked for oral sex.
“I lost it and blacked out. I started hitting him,” she said.
King claimed she owned a bike - a grey one - but had been unable to ride because of ongoing back issues through December and January of 2016, eventually requiring surgery for a growth on her spine that needed to be drained.
She said she had relied upon her mother to get around during that time.
King said she wasn’t riding her bike on Feb. 10, 2016, and due to her inebriated state the day of the assault, she wouldn’t have recognized Bujta in the street anyway.
“The count of obstruction of justice is a serious one. It strikes at the heart of the system of justice,” Judge Sinclair said, but added given the evidence, he was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt of King’s guilt.
King still faces sentencing after entering guilty pleas Dec. 9. 2016, on two assault charges, one against Bujta, and the other against a police officer, from the Dec. 13 incident.
An order was made to have King’s pre-sentence report updated prior to sentencing. Her next date in court is May 17.
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