South Surrey murder verdict to be delivered in March

Defence counsel says witness testimony in parking-lot shooting ‘seemed to exonerate the accused’

The man accused of killing Craig Widdifield in cold blood nearly four years ago in a South Surrey parking lot will learn in eight weeks if he will be found guilty of the crime.

Justice Peter Voith confirmed Friday he will present his reasons for judgment in the case against Brody Robert Paterson on March 31.

The scheduling followed 2½ days of closing submissions by lawyers who began arguing the case in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster last September.

Crown David Sim told the court Thursday that it “should be left with no reasonable doubt” that Paterson is “guilty of the planned and deliberate murder of Craig Widdifield.”

Defence counsel Michael Klein disagreed. He said one witness’s testimony was “troubling,” while two others “provided evidence that seemed to exonerate the accused.”

“Collectively, I think there’s reasonable doubt,” Klein told the court Friday.

Paterson, born in 1994, was arrested in October 2014 and charged with first-degree murder. Widdifield, 28, was gunned down in the 15700-block of Croydon Drive around 7 p.m. on April 24, 2013, in what police at the time described as a “murder conspiracy.”

Paterson pleaded not guilty at the outset of his trial, which was adjourned after two weeks due to “an issue,” then resumed in January.

One witness who testified last fall – and whose identity is protected by a publication ban – described having “direct line of sight” to the killing, which took place as Widdifield was getting into his Mercedes SUV.

“I saw a person with their right arm extended to another person, heard or saw the two or three shots, the person stepping into the vehicle fell backwards,” the witness testified. “At that point, I saw everyone just scatter (and) saw the last breath of the victim.”

The gunman then got into a Jeep Grand Cherokee that was parked next to Widdifield’s SUV – entering through the front passenger door – and sped off, the witness said.

The witness also testified that he followed the gunman – who had been wearing “some sort of mask to disguise his face” – while calling 911, until the Jeep turned onto a dead-end road.

Paterson took the stand on Jan. 20 and 21. Klein told Peace Arch News by email that his client “denied participating in the homicide of (the) victim.”

During closing submissions, Sim described Paterson’s testimony as “wholly unbelievable,” intended to “minimize and distance himself from the planning and execution of the murder of Craig Widdifield.”

Klein, noting Paterson had told police he was at White Rock beach at the time, submitted that the statement wouldn’t make sense if Paterson had pulled the trigger.

“If the accused was the shooter, why would he put himself in the vicinity (of the crime)?” Klein said.

While Klein questioned the credibility of one witness who had identified Paterson from a photo lineup with “no hesitation,” Voith said he was troubled by Paterson’s memory of certain events in “perfect sequence,” but not others.

“You are suspicious of people whose recollection of events are overly precise,” Voith said.

Klein submitted that the degree of detail provided “does not detract” from Paterson’s credibility.

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