Oscar Arfmann listens to closing arguments on Aug. 1 during his trial for the first-degree murder of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson. (Sketch by Felicity Don)

Oscar Arfmann listens to closing arguments on Aug. 1 during his trial for the first-degree murder of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson. (Sketch by Felicity Don)

UPDATE: Judge agrees to hearing on cop killer’s mental state

Oscar Arfmann convicted of first-degree murder, but could be found not criminallly responsible

Oscar Arfmann was convicted Thursday of the Nov. 6, 2017 fatal shooting of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson, but the judge has agreed to a hearing on Arfmann’s mental state at the time of the killing.

Justice Carol Ross ruled Thursday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster that Arfmann, 67, is guilty of first-degree murder.

But in the afternoon session, defence lawyer Martin Peters said his client has previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he would like an assessment to determine whether Arfmann is not criminally responsible (NCR) due to a mental disorder.

Crown lawyer Theresa Iandiorio said that Arfmann has previously met eight times with a psychologist and on none of those occasions did he discuss the offence or what his state of mind might have been at the time.

Ross agreed that Arfmann should complete another assessment on his mental state by Nov. 29, and that a hearing on the matter would take place next year from Feb. 3 to 28.

Evidence that was not presented at his trial – including Arfmann’s mental-health history and statements from his family – will be included at the hearing.

In convicting Arfmann , Ross addressed defence assertions during the trial that the Crown had failed to prove that Arfmann was the man who had shot and killed Davidson, 53, in a business complex on Mt. Lehman Road.

Defence lawyers had pointed out some inconsistencies in witness descriptions of the man that had been seen during and after Davidson was shot.

They also questioned the handling of the rifle that was taken from the vehicle in which Arfmann was arrested minutes after the shooting.

But Ross said she had no doubt that Arfmann was the man responsible for the killing and everything that preceded it.

“I have concluded that, based on a review of the totality of the evidence, and giving consideration to areas in which there are inconsistencies and gaps in the evidence, that the Crown has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Arfmann is the man who committed the unlawful act of shooting Const. Davidson,” Ross said.

She said Arfmann had stolen a 2013 black Ford Mustang from the Fraser Valley Auto Mall two days before the shooting.

On the day of the killing, he shot at two auto mall employees who confronted him about the stolen vehicle. He then left the business complex and returned.

Witnesses had called police about shots being fired, and Davidson was the first to arrive on scene.

Ross said Arfmann shot Davidson twice from behind, once when he was already down on the ground.

Arfmann was arrested not far from the scene after police chased him, crashed into the vehicle he was driving and shot at him.

Among the items found on Arfmann and in the Mustang were three knives, a rifle, cartridges for the gun, and photo ID, including his passport.

Ross said blood found on the rifle was later shown to match Arfmann’s, and forensic testing proved that the rifle was the same one used in the two shootings at the business complex.

She said there was no other conclusion she could reach other than that Arfmann is guilty.

“In my view … there are simply no other plausible theories or other reasonable possibilities based on logic and experience applied to the evidence – or the absence of evidence – and not on speculation.”

Conviction for first-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

An NCR ruling would mean that the judge believes that Arfmann did not have the capacity to appreciate his actions and know right from wrong at the time of the offence.

Individuals who receive such a ruling fall under the mandate of the BC Review Board, which conducts an assessment to determine whether the person should be detained in a hospital, discharged in the community under certain conditions or discharged without conditions.

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More to come …

RELATED: Const. John Davidson was ‘ambushed’ by shooter, Crown says on first day of trial

RELATED: ‘Not criminally responsible’ ruling a possibility for man accused of killing Abbotsford cop

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Vikki Hopes | Reporter

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Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 6, 2017.

Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 6, 2017.

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