News

Update: Killer appeals conviction for Surrey trucker's 1998 murder

A man found guilty of murdering another during a botched break-in in Surrey nearly 16 years ago has appealed his conviction.

Gary Donald Johnston was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for the second-degree murder of trucker Vic Fraser in March 1998.

During the trial, the court heard that Johnston was robbing resident Jeanie Fraser's home in the Bridgeview area when her brother, Vic (pictured at left), interrupted him. The two had met before and initially greeted one another kindly.

But Johnston panicked, taking knives from the kitchen and stabbing Vic in the neck several times. He then kicked the 41-year-old and threw a clay pot on his head before stealing his wallet and fleeing.

During sentencing, the trial judge said Johnston could have simply left the home that day, but instead committed a "remorseless, brutal, sustained and violent attack."

Johnston wasn't arrested for the Surrey murder until 2009, after he admitted the crime to an undercover police officer in a Mr. Big-style sting.

At a B.C. Court of Appeal hearing Monday morning in Vancouver, however, Johnston’s lawyer Brent Olthuis argued there were inconsistencies between what Johnston told the crime boss and an alleged confession he gave to his brother. The number of weapons used differed, for example, as did details about how he gained access to the house.

Mainly, Olthuis said, the trial judge erred in not giving more scrutiny to evidence from Johnston’s brother Michael Johnston, a cocaine addict who was in custody at the time that he gave a statement to police saying Gary told him he murdered Fraser.

Michael’s lack of memory at trial, said Olthuis, made it almost impossible for him to be properly cross-examined and the detailed account he gave to police years earlier raised the question whether it came from his brother’s confession or his own first-hand knowledge of the murder.

The Crown was expected to counter the arguments Monday afternoon.

Jeanie Fraser said though it was painful for her to relive the horror of her brother's death, she felt compelled to attend the appeal hearing.

"I have to go because this is my brother, who's not here to defend himself," she said.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

B.C. lawyers vote to overturn Trinity Western law school recognition
 
Awakening from a bad dream
 
Glenhurst Manor haunted house will benefit charity
ICBC pedestrian safety campaign
 
In the ditch
 
Election 2014: Trudy Handel seeks Township seat on Board of Education
Mayor candidate: John Allen running for mayor in Harrison Hot Springs
 
Council candidate: Susan Spaeti running in District of Kent
 
Mayor candidate: John Van Laerhoven seeking relection in District of Kent

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.