Nova Scotia

2 charged, 1 arrested in relation to death of Prabhjot Singh Katri

Two men have been charged and a third man has been arrested in relation to the death of Prabhjot Singh Katri in Truro, N.S., on Sept. 5.

Police believe Katri was stabbed outside Truro apartment building on Sept. 5

Police have laid charges in the death of Prabhjot Singh Katri. (GoFundMe)

Two men have been charged and a third man has been arrested in relation to the death of Prabhjot Singh Katri in Truro, N.S., on Sept. 5.

The 23-year-old, who came to Canada from India to study in 2017, was stabbed while getting into his own vehicle outside an apartment complex at 494 Robie St., according to search warrant documents obtained by CBC News. 

Katri worked as a taxi driver and had dropped in to see a small group of friends after his shift finished, the records said. The friends later told police Katri was heading home because he had an early shift at Tim Hortons. Police believe someone attacked him in the parking lot at 2:07 a.m. AT.

"His friends observed a white Honda Civic fleeing the scene with two males in it immediately after the murder," the court documents state. 

Though Katri managed to return to his friends, he collapsed inside and paramedics took him to the Colchester East Hants Health Centre, where he died around 3 a.m.

Charges announced in court

Two of the three men allegedly involved in his death appeared in Shubenacadie provincial court Friday morning.  

Dylan Robert MacDonald, 21, of Valley, N.S., was arrested Thursday and has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder. He's alleged to have helped another man escape.

MacDonald is also alleged to have failed to stop a vehicle for police, and has been charged with flight from police and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

He's been remanded into custody and is due back in court on Oct. 26.

The man who MacDonald is alleged to have helped has been on remand since Sept. 9 due to other pending changes. 

Truro police arrested him Friday morning when he was released to their custody, but have not yet named him, as he has not been charged in relation to the homicide. The 20-year-old man is from Pictou Landing First Nation.

Chief Dave MacNeil said they expect that man to be charged with murder. His name will then be made public. Police can hold someone without charges for up to 24 hours. 

Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil says the investigation was complex. (CBC)

In the early days of the investigation, Truro police said there was no risk to the general public. MacNeil, who spoke to reporters Friday afternoon, said they made that determination after identifying suspects.

"Early on in our investigation, we had very strong indications of who did this. Knowing who did a crime and proving who did a crime are two very different things," he said. 

The seven weeks since Katri's death were spent gathering that evidence, he said. 

"Through this investigation, nobody felt the pressure more than our police officers, our investigators, to bring justice to Prabhjot's family and friends and the greater community," he said. 

Warrant for third man

MacNeil said police couldn't talk about a motive or any details of the crime or investigation, or if police think it was a hate crime, but he said all of that will come out during the court proceedings.  

Police issued an arrest warrant Friday for a third person, Marcus Denny of Pictou Landing First Nation, 22, who is charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Denny is not in custody. 

MacNeil also said MacDonald was the person arrested and released shortly after Katri's death

Search warrant documents unsealed

Last month CBC News filed an application requesting access to search warrant documents in the case, which had been sealed. 

Judge Alain Bégin had ordered them to be unsealed during a hearing in Truro on Tuesday and they were scheduled to be released Friday morning in Shubenacadie provincial court. CBC News has obtained redacted copies of five of 11 documents. 

The records show that police sought approval to search the common area of the Robie Street building for knives and forensic evidence, including DNA. They also obtained a search warrant for a property in the community of Valley, N.S., and for three vehicles: a white 2020 Honda Civic, a 2015 Honda Fit, and a grey 2006 Honda Civic. Truro police located and seized the white Civic around 5:20 a.m., just hours after Katri died. 

Phones seized, properties searched 

RCMP Cpl. Matt Conn summarized the case in information to obtains — the documents that explain why police want a search warrant — after speaking to investigators and reviewing statements given to police and video surveillance.

The records state two friends of the victim called 911 and a friend later told police that Katri's "dying declaration" related to who killed him. It's unclear from the documents if Katri had any prior interactions with the person who attacked him.

A candlelight vigil was held in Truro for Prabhjot Singh Katri on Sept. 11. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC)

Much of the information related to the suspects has been redacted in the documents but they show police conducted two caution interviews on the same day of the killing. One man "admits to [being] in a police chase" and said he was at a friend's apartment at 494 Robie St., which the records describe as a two-storey building containing four apartments.

Another man who lived in one of the units told police he was home all night playing Xbox and only saw police when he woke up, according to Conn's summary of interviews.

Police also later sought approval to seize and examine stored data on five phones, including one that had belonged to the victim. 

Conn requested stored data from July 8 to Sept. 8 — including call and chat logs, GPS data and images — "to capture any communications that may show premeditation, planning and conspiracy to commit the offence and in order to capture any assistance that may have been provided after the offence." 

'Very grateful'

Simardeep Hundal, president of the Maritime Sikh Society, said the news of charges brought some peace to those who knew the young man. 

"It was a sense of relief, somewhat happiness," she said. "I'm very grateful, very thankful to Truro police for working so hard, and hoping that justice will be served."

Hundal said his sister and brother-in-law have left Truro for now, as they found it hard to live in the place where he died. Many of his friends are still in the community.

"A lot of young people thought that justice would never be done," she said. "I heard that from many young people who thought it's a hate crime and because it's Canada, nobody cares about that. I am sure that this step by Truro police has given them their confidence back."

Katri's ​​​​body was returned to India and cremated last month.

"We lost him without any reason," Hundal said. 

With files from Frances Willick