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.

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