Sheri-Lynn Brown remembers that the words her husband spoke to her three years ago left her uneasy.
“He said, ‘no matter what you hear, no matter what you see, do not come out of the trailer,’” Brown told Justice R. Crawford Monday.
“It’s not a statement you make every day. Something in my stomach said something isn’t right.”
Not long after, she was pleading for a neighbour’s help. She told him, “my husband’s killing someone,” she said.
Brown was testifying in the Supreme Court trial of Darryl Gordon Brown, who at the start of proceedings pleaded not guilty to three charges – aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and robbery – in connection with an Aug. 1, 2009, incident in South Surrey that seriously injured White Rock businessman Fred Edrissi.
Darryl Brown was ordered in December 2010 to stand trial on the charges, following a preliminary hearing in Surrey Provincial Court.
The bulk of Edrissi’s evidence was heard Tuesday, when he told Crawford how he went to a property in the 16500-block of 32 Avenue – where Darryl Brown was living – on the night in question to have mechanical work done on his minivan. Brown was renting a trailer from a friend of Edrissi’s who lived in a house on the same property. Edrissi had attended the site twice earlier in the day, but Brown kept sending him away, first to pick up parts, and then because Brown said he wanted some quiet time with his wife, he said.
Edrissi said on his last return, he noticed a change in Brown’s demeanour – he was nervous and agitated, he said.
Edrissi said he followed instructions from Brown to move his mini-van to the back of the trailer, then headed into a workshop nearby to try and fix a grinder that Brown had been struggling with.
He was at a workbench with his back to the door when, “bang, bang, bang on my head.”
Turning, Edrissi said he saw Brown with a hammer in one hand and a pipe wrench in the other.
“I said, ‘why?’ He said, ‘give me your money,’” Edrissi told the court. “I said, ‘please, you can have it, please stop.’
“He wouldn’t stop.”
Edrissi went on to describe how he tried to put distance between himself and Brown by swinging the grinder above his head by its power cord, then running out of the shed. Brown followed, he said, continuing the attack.
Listening from the courtroom gallery in New Westminster, Sheri-Lynn Brown – who separated from her husband two years ago – cried as Edrissi spoke, watching as he used his hands to show how he defended himself.
“He was whacking me, left and right,” he said. “I tried to cover with my hand, cover my face and head.”
Darryl Brown didn’t speak after the demand for cash, Edrissi said. He just continued to follow Edrissi, attempting, when Edrissi tripped and fell, to strangle him with the grinder cord, and then to hit him with a large rock.
“He grabbed that stone, he whack it (at my head), grab it again, he whack it.”
With a broken arm and shattered kneecap, Edrissi dragged himself under a truck that was parked outside his friend’s home. He rolled from side to side as Brown tried to prod him out from under with a metal bar, he said.
Outside court Tuesday, a shaking Sheri-Lynn Brown told Peace Arch News that she returned to watch the proceedings after giving her evidence the day before because she needed to know what had transpired in the time that she couldn’t see her husband and Edrissi that night.
Monday, she told the court she had seen much of the assault, but missed what happened when she hid in bushes on a neighbour’s property. She said she had appealed to the neighbour for help but hid after she was told to get off the property because the resident said he doesn’t “need that shit around here,” she said.
She described Edrissi as “a nice guy that always brought my kids treats.”
On the night in question, her husband’s mood was “normal,” she told the court. The order to stay inside the trailer, however, was disturbing, she said.
Darryl Brown also told her to “have your shoes on and be ready to go,” the witness said.
She testified that she saw her husband follow Edrissi into a shed that was located adjacent to their trailer, and that Darryl Brown had a tool – part of a jack he had used on Edrissi’s minivan – in his right hand. While Edrissi’s demeanour appeared normal, her husband had “a look I hadn’t seen before,” she said.
A few seconds later, there was a thump, followed by Edrissi’s voice saying “why did you do that? …here, take it, you can have it all, take it, take it,” she said.
When the two men emerged from the other side of the shed, Edrissi was walking backwards, his hands up and his face covered in blood; Darryl Brown had a red tool in his hand, his arm raised as if poised to swing, she said.
When the tool impacted Edrissi’s head, “I heard his skull crunch,” the witness said.
After police arrived, Sheri-Lynn Brown said she saw Edrissi lying on the ground, covered in blood and not moving.
“I couldn’t go past the body,” she said. “I thought he was dead.”
In cross-examination, Edrissi laughed when defence lawyer Jeremy Fung suggested he had triggered the confrontation by swinging at Darryl Brown when told his van keys wouldn’t be returned until he paid Brown for mechanical work.
“What a lie,” Edrissi said. “I never in my life touch anybody or attack anybody. That is pure lie, absolute lie.”
Edrissi also objected to Fung’s suggestion that his memory of the night’s events was confused, and to the suggestion that Edrissi had a pipe wrench in his own hand while hiding under the truck.
“I couldn’t carry anything with broken hand, broken knee, broken skull, broken ribs…” he said.
The assault stopped when a tenant of the home’s basement suite came out to investigate the noise, the court heard.
Prosecutor Jas Gahunia closed the Crown’s case Tuesday. In addition to Sheri-Lynn Brown and Edrissi, she called two police officers to give evidence, along with a resident of the property.
The trial has been adjourned pending Crown’s review of a psychiatric report provided by defence. A continuation date has not been set.