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Interrupted robbery resulted in murder: Crown

Vic Fraser's violent death more than a decade ago was a crime of opportunity and the result of a robbery gone wrong, say Crown prosecutors.

The second-degree murder trial of Gary Johnston began Monday, 13 years after Fraser's bloodied, unconscious body was found at his sister's home in the Bridgeview neighbourhood of North Surrey.

Johnston was charged in 2009 with second-degree murder in connection to Fraser's death. The bearded, overweight man, his shoulder-length hair partially tied back, pleaded not guilty in New Westminster Supreme Court on Monday morning.

In his opening statement, Crown prosecutor Adam Jantunen said Johnston broke into Jeanie Fraser's house on the morning of March 10, 1998 because he needed money and knew she'd be gone for the day because he used to live next door and knew her schedule.

It's alleged that Johnston began piling up items to steal, such as a video game system, phone charging base and jewelry.

Vic Fraser, however, surprised Johnston by showing up at the house, said Jantunen. The two men had met before, but Johnston was concerned Fraser would be suspicious. So he took a pair of serrated knives from the kitchen and stabbed Fraser several times in the neck, the blades breaking off of the handles in the process.

The Crown intends to argue that after the killing, Johnston called his brother, and weeks later, burned the clothing worn during the murder in a friend's fireplace.

The Crown contends Johnston admitted he murdered Vic Fraser not only to his brother, but to a friend and to an undercover police officer posing as a crime boss.

Jeanie Fraser testified in court Monday that Vic had called police the morning he was killed because he was concerned his rental property – which backed on Jeanie's home – had a marijuana grow operation. He then went to her house to investigate a leak.

She said Johnston lived next door to her with two housemates and that she used to drive him places and loaned him things regularly. She had even invited Johnston over a few months earlier on Christmas Day to enjoy some holiday baking.

In court, Jeanie identified Johnston, who waved at her from the prisoner's box. She told him he had gained a lot of weight since she last saw him.

The trial is scheduled for more than a month.

Outside court, Jeanie Fraser said she would be attending every day of the trial and hopes to find out why her brother was killed and why it took police so long to make an arrest.

Both she and Vic's childhood friend, Ray Decenzo remembered Vic, a well-respected trucker, as generous and caring.

"I would dare anyone to be as good of a friend as he was," said Decenzo. "He would go out of his way to help anyone.

"I really want to see justice done."

 

sreynolds@surreyleader.com

 

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