Witnesses say victim provoked lethal one-punch outside Kelowna Cactus Club - InfoNews

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Witnesses say victim provoked lethal one-punch outside Kelowna Cactus Club

Ontario resident Zachary Gaudette, 30, died after a police-described 'altercation' around 9 a.m. Feb 17, 2016.
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June 19, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KELOWNA – The first two witnesses to the fatal one-punch outside a Kelowna Cactus Club last year say Cory Van Gilder was acting in self defence.

Cory Richard Eric Van Gilder, 27, was charged with manslaughter after he and Zachary Gaudette, 30, got into what police called an “altercation” outside the Banks Road restaurant at around 9 p.m. on Feb. 17. Gaudette was taken to hospital in serious condition and succumbed to his injuries two days later.

On the first day of jury trial today, June 19, Mark Marcum testified he was with Van Gilder celebrating a birthday that night. When they left to go to another restaurant, loud yelling outside caught their attention.

A man they did not know was screaming incoherently, he said, challenging a group of three teenagers who were also outside the restaurant to fight.

“He was crazy. Not normal,” Marcum testified. “He was yelling something… very threatening.”

Marcum says Gaudette was calling out to everyone, trying to get someone to fight him.

“Something along the lines of he wanted to fight everybody,” Marcum said. “It was directed at all of us.”

He says Gaudette started taking off his clothing and back pack as he walked towards the group, which by that time included Van Gilder. He appeared to be “getting ready to fight.”

“He must have been on drugs or something, he was irrational, he didn’t make sense,” Marcum said. “Cory defended himself and struck the man.”

The punch, he said, caught Gaudette below the left ear and he fell, unconscious. Van Gilder and his friends left the scene. 

Jordin Erback, 18, says he and two friends were confronted by Gaudette, who was a stranger to them.

He testified that the punch that killed him “wasn’t that hard” and he considered it self defence.

“He looked like he really wanted to hurt somebody. He kept on making fists, tried to take his jacket off, kept digging around in his pockets,” Erback said. “I thought when I saw him rummaging through his pockets, I thought he was going to stab one of us.”

As Erback was deciding whether to run or fight, the man turned his attention to Van Gilder and his group who were standing nearby.

“He just kept on coming towards us…. Yelling and screaming… Then some guy (Van Gilder) was there and he’s like what’s going on, is this guy with you?”

The whole event took just a few seconds. 

“He (Gaudette) started to come close to the guy (Van Gilder) and (Van Gilder) hit him. That’s it,” he said. “He was standing up for us. We’re just a bunch of kids.”

The trial is scheduled for up to nine days, during which time video of the incident will be shown to the eight men and four women of the jury. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw 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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