Colin John’s murder trial is on hold, likely until spring of next year. (file photo)

Colin John’s murder trial is on hold, likely until spring of next year. (file photo)

John murder trial at Duncan courthouse on pause until spring

John is charged with the May 2016 murder of 20-year-old Derek Descoteau

The first phase of the second-degree murder trial for Colin John wrapped up in Duncan Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

And it will likely be several months before it resumes and the defence presents its case.

John is charged with the May 2016 murder of 20-year-old Derek Descoteau and attempted murder in connection with an attack on 16-year-old Janelle Guyatt at a residence in Chemainus.

Stabbed several times, Descoteau succumbed to his injuries en route to hospital. Guyatt survived the attack but is still recovering from knife wounds.

The trial began in November and Crown prosecutors Ken Paziuk and Steve Richards called 14 witnesses over several weeks.

Defence lawyer Scott Sheets has been given permission to seek a psychiatric assessment of his client prior to opening his defence of John. That could push the re-start date of the trial back to March or April. A conference is scheduled for early February at which time a date for continuing the trial will be set.

Most of the testimony heard up until now involved RCMP officers who arrived at the Caswell Street home in the early afternoon of May 17, 2016, crime lab experts, and neighbours who had rushed to the scene after hearing screams coming from the house.

Next-door neighbour Carl Wright described how he tended to Descoteau in the front yard and heard him say John had stabbed him. Moments later, John appeared and knelt down beside the two men. John was arrested soon after.

Other witnesses described their interaction with John at the scene, on the way to hospital in Nanaimo and later in the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.

John was frequently described as being non-communicative and distracted.

However, RCMP Insp. Adrian Marsden, the last witness to take the stand, told the court of his interviews with John over the May long weekend and said John was at times “quite social” and even shared a rambling story that seemed to be a fantasy yarn that he had decided to share.

“Once in awhile I like to tell stories,” Marsden says John told him after he finished.

The two men talked about a number of subjects including smoking cigars, drinking Red Bull, sports, and using drugs as Marsden attempted to draw information about the fatal stabbing from the suspect.

John resisted, telling the veteran Mountie that his lawyer had advised him not to answer any questions.

Marsden pressed on, asking John if he could remember what had happened over the last week.

“I’m not asking you what happened, just can you remember,” the officer said.

“Am I keeping you from anything?” John asked. “You’re here to talk to me, right?”

John also thanked Marsden for spending some time with him and showing some concern.

“You’re the first one to do that,” he said.

On the tape played in court over two days, John’s mood ranged from sombre to talkative and occasionally bizarre. At one point he attempted to bite the sutures that had secured the wounds on his hands.

Under cross examination by Sheets, Marsden denied he was trying to get a confession.

“I wanted to get to the truth,” Marsden responded.

John was in the RCMP cell, a small room with only concrete ledges to sleep on, for more than two days before making his first court appearance. He has been in custody since May 2016.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10th annual Victor’s Secret Fashion Show has been postponed. (Victor’s Secret 2019 - North Island Gazette file photo)
COVID-19: 10th annual Victor’s Secret Fashion Show has been postponed

The fashion show is an annual fundraiser where local men wear bras made by community members.

Michele Babchuk with Premier John Horgan and Clerk of the Legislature Katy Ryan-Lloyd. (BC Legislature)
Babchuk sworn in to B.C.’s 42nd Legislature

Oath ceremony held with MLAs connecting through video

Over 6,000 customers were affected by the power outage that started on Nov. 17. (BC Hydro photo)
BC Hydro crews worked 16 hour days to turn the North Island’s power back on

BC Hydro runs one transmission line to Northern Vancouver Island so there was no backup line.

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

Most Read