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Why a jury might have rejected self defence in Fraser murder trial

Police were called to a homicide investigation at the Kamloops RV Park on Dallas Drive on Feb. 11, 2017.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
December 17, 2018 - 4:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - As far as anyone knew, Cody Foster and Stephen Fraser were buddies.

Despite their age difference — Foster, 26, Fraser now 58 years old — they worked together, hung out together and drank together.

Fraser says he might have complained to others about loaning Foster money throughout their friendship, but for the most part, it was nothing serious.

That’s why Crown prosecutors had to admit to a jury this week, they had no idea why Fraser beat Foster and stabbed him to death — they only knew that he did.

Foster and Fraser were the only ones in Foster’s camper at the Kamloops RV Park one night last February and when Fraser walked out, only he could explain the violence that occurred inside.

He said it was self defence and 12 jurors took roughly eight hours to reject that defence last week. That’s likely because, as prosecutors pointed out, his story had too many holes.

There’s no question Fraser killed Foster, he doesn’t dispute that.

Foster suffered from at least 32 injuries, including a stab wound to his carotid artery, a major blood vessel in the neck. Perhaps more telling, though, Crown prosecutors pointed to the lack of injuries and defensive wounds found on Fraser, further showing this was more of a one-sided fight than the lengthy battle Fraser described to his jury.

Fraser’s self defence claim boiled down to what he said was a threat that Foster made that February 11, 2017 afternoon and Fraser’s belief that Foster could carry out that threat.

Fraser and Foster met each other working at Adwood Manufacturing in Kamloops. The two worked together and had been friends for just over a year before the incident.

A former supervisor to Fraser and Foster says they were “both good workers” and even described Fraser as a “quiet and calm” man. Foster's two older sisters say their little brother was a "light in this world" and he that he loved and cared about everyone and everything.

"He was the most unselfish person you ever met," Dana said through tears shortly after hearing Fraser's guilty verdict.

But that’s not what Fraser said. He asked jurors to accept that Foster might have gang connections — or at least said he did. He testified that Foster once offered to put Fraser’s brother in the hospital for $500.

"He knew my brother wasn't my favourite person," Fraser said, explaining that his brother once assaulted him.

So while they were friends, Fraser made it clear he believed Foster was capable of doing harm. When they were hanging out and drinking in Foster’s camper, he said Foster randomly threatened him by saying “just so you know, I really don’t want to kill you… I got no choice.”

Fraser says he stopped what he was doing.

“He started hugging me which was very odd,” Fraser said while beginning to cry. “He kept talking, he said, ‘don’t feel bad, brother-from-another-mother, it’s not personal, it’s just business.’”

Fraser said his mind went into "bear-encounter mode" and while hugging, he grabbed a knife from Foster’s dish rack and pushed the knife into Foster’s neck, breaking it at the same time. He said no matter what he did to Foster, Foster kept coming at him.

But there was no evidence that Foster attacked first. Fraser’s own evidence suggests he did little more than speak, if he even made the threats. While Fraser described a battle, prosecutors say there’s no way Foster had the upper hand in the fight considering his level of intoxication and the number of injuries Foster suffered.

Janse reminded Fraser of a statement he provided to police describing the altercation as ‘boom, boom, done.’

By the time Fraser emerged, Foster was covered with wounds; Fraser had next to none.

Toxicology showed Foster’s blood-alcohol level that night was nearly four times the legal limit for driving. Fraser’s blood alcohol level was never tested, though evidence suggested they were drinking together that night.

Pressed for a theory or explanation of why the two fought that night, the Crown kept coming back to money Fraser loaned Foster.

Crown prosecutor Alex Janse asked Fraser if it was common for Foster to borrow money off of him and if he ever referred to Foster as “his little charity case” or “his little welfare case”.

"I may have used that expression," Fraser said.

The day Fraser killed him, borrowed money was a key part of the day because Foster showed up unexpectedly, needed money for bills and Fraser borrowed the money from his own dad, something he admits he felt shame doing as a grown man.

We'll never know exactly why a jury rejected his claim of self defence, but they found him guilty of second degree murder. A hearing to fix a date for Fraser's sentencing will take place in January.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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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