'I wasn't able to help': Fellow bus driver says in emotional testimony he saw fatal stabbing of Irvine Fraser
Winnipeg Transit operator Giancarlo Dimacali testified at 2nd-degree murder trial of Brian Kyle Thomas
Winnipeg Transit operator Giancarlo Dimacali's voice broke and he wiped tears from his eyes as he described his frustration over his inability to save the life of his fellow bus driver, Irvine Jubal Fraser.
Dimacali was one of several witnesses called to testify Wednesday who said he saw the fatal encounter between Fraser and Brian Kyle Thomas on Feb. 14, 2017.
Thomas, 24, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the death of Fraser, 58. His case is being heard by a 12-member jury and presided over by Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal in Winnipeg.
Fraser died from multiple stab wounds after getting into a fight with Thomas, a passenger on his bus, at the end of his route in the early morning hours of Feb. 14.
The night Fraser died, Dimacali's bus was stopped on the University of Manitoba campus, near the corner of Gilson Street and Dafoe Road. Fraser's bus drove past and parked several metres away.
Dimacali then noticed two people in the doorway of Fraser's bus who appeared to be fighting, punching and kicking each other. Wanting to help, Dimacali drove his bus closer, got out and ran over, yelling at the two men to stop.
It was at this point, Dimacali said, that he saw that one of the two men was wearing a Winnipeg Transit uniform. Fraser had his arms up, trying to block Thomas as his arm was swinging down towards him, a silver flash coming from something in Thomas's hand, Dimacali testified.
"I went closer to them and what I thought was them punching each other, turns out he was stabbing him already," he said, wiping away tears.
Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson asked why he was crying.
"Mainly because of the frustration that I wasn't able to help," he said.
After Dimicali yelled at them to stop, the two men pulled apart. Fraser stumbled back towards his bus, falling to his knees and then toppling over, while Thomas started walking towards Dimacali.
Realizing he still had two passengers on his bus and the door was open, Dimacali rushed back onto his bus and closed the door.
Thomas stood outside the door of that bus, looking in for several seconds, until he saw that Dimacali was on the phone calling for help, at which point he ran toward the back of the bus and out of sight.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Evan Roitenberg referred to a statement Dimacali gave to police in which he said both men were punching and kicking each other, and that Fraser had a grip on Thomas's arm as he was swinging at him.
Roitenberg also noted that Fraser was bigger than Thomas.
"At one point, did you see with your eyes the littler person end up going towards the ground?" Roitenberg asked.
"No sir," Dimacali replied.
'Nothing I can do'
A heavy equipment operator who witnessed the encounter also testified on Wednesday.
Kimberley Defries told court on Wednesday she ran over to try to help Fraser, but there was nothing she could do.
Defries was parked in her five-tonne truck on Dafoe Road on the University of Manitoba Campus when she noticed some movement in the side mirror.
He went up against the bus, fell to his knees, and he just went straight down.- Kimberley Defries, witness
She saw a larger man with his hands on another smaller man locked in a struggle, as the smaller man repeatedly swung his right arm, his hand in a closed fist, striking the larger man.
"Then all of a sudden the bus driver went back. He went up against the bus, fell to his knees, and he just went straight down," Defries told the court.
Thomas, 24, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Fraser, 58. His case is being heard by a 12-member jury and presided by Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal.
Fraser died from multiple stab wounds after getting into an argument with Thomas, a passenger on his bus, who refused to get off at the end of the route.
After seeing Fraser go down, Defries got out of her truck and ran over to him.
"There was nothing I can do," she said.
Defries said the fight lasted between 30 and 45 seconds. Crown attorney Paul Girdlestone asked Defries if she saw the larger man punch or kick the smaller man.
"No," she replied.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Kevin Minuk asked Defries about apparent discrepancies between her testimony and her sworn police statement, in which she said she didn't see either man punching and made no mention of seeing a swinging motion.
"You would agree that when you were talking to the officers, at no point did you say you saw a swinging motion?" Minuk said.
"No, I would not agree," Defries said. She said in conversation with the officers before making her videotaped sworn statement, she mentioned the swinging motion and demonstrated it to them.
She said she doesn't know why she didn't mention that in the video.
Thomas's trial, which began Monday, is expected to last two weeks.