“I thought he was dead,” said a Langley City woman who witnessed a 39-year-old man being badly beaten in November 2014.
The woman, Ms. Horvac, took the stand in the trial of Matthew Samms, 19, who is charged with robbery and assault in connection to a beating near the Langley bus loop that seriously injured a Fernridge man on his way home from work.
Samms has pleaded not guilty and his trial began in Surrey Provincial Court on Wednesday.
A 15-year-old also charged in this case pleaded guilty to assault and robbery in February and was sentenced in March. His name was not released because he is classified as a young offender.
It was Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, when Chris Lafrenier, then 39, had finished work and was supposed to be catching another bus at around midnight to his Fernridge home.
He was waiting at the Logan Avenue bus exchange, when it is alleged two teens got into an altercation with him.
Police responded to several 911 calls and located Lafrenier just south of the 7-Eleven store on 203 Street.
He was face down in a pool of his own blood, not moving. It was later learned that the assault had left him with a broken nose and a chipped tooth.
He needed stitches to close wounds on his head and had suffered a brain injury.
A description of the suspects was given to police and the two accused teens were arrested a short time later.
Statements of fact in the trial indicate that forensics identified the victim’s blood on Samms shoes and jeans.
Samms was expected to take the stand in his own defense. Lafrenier was also expected to take the stand on Thursday after The Times’ press deadline.
On Wednesday, Samms’ defense lawyer, Bill Jessop, suggested that the 15-year-old was the aggressor and that Samms tried to pull him off Lafrenier at one point.
A witness who was watching TV just before midnight inside her second-storey apartment across from the Army & Navy, near the 7-Eleven in Langley City, testified that she looked out her window when she heard yelling.
She saw two young men, one blonde the other brown-haired, pushing and punching an older male who was wearing a safety vest.
She testified that once she determined that this wasn’t just horse play, but a beating, she called 911.
She described how the two young men punched and kicked him. His face was bleeding and his hands were up in attempt to protect himself.
“He didn’t fight back,” she testified. “I felt sorry for the victim.”
He fell onto the ground, and the teens appeared to walk away, she said.
They continued to yell, but she had her window closed and couldn’t hear what anyone was saying.
The youths returned when the victim attempted to get up and fell back down again, she said. They kicked him in the head and back repeatedly, she testified. The victim was in the fetal position trying to protect his head. She said they appeared to be wearing work boots.
When asked if she thought the younger one was the aggressor, she responded that from what she saw they were both participating in the beating. She did agree the younger male did kick the victim more times than the older teen.
The trial continued on Thursday.
A few days after The Times wrote about the attack on Lafrenier and how his injuries prevented him from returning to work to pay his rent, there was an outpouring of support from the community.
More than $10,000 was raised on a Gofundme.com account set up by his mother-in-law.