The man found guilty of killing an Abbotsford police officer in a 2017 shootout will not face a hearing to determine his mental fitness at the time of the murder, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday.
The decision by Justice Carol Ross means the first-degree murder verdict for Oscar Arfmann will stand after all — along with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Arfmann was found guilty of killing Const. John Davidson in October 2019, but the conviction was not entered into the record, after Madame Justice Carol Ross ordered a second psychiatric assessment of Arfmann to determine his mental state at the time of the shooting.
That assessment resulted in a report that found the possibility Arfmann was in a mental state in which he didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong, and was suffering from psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.
But at a Jan. 13 hearing to discuss the report, Arfmann’s lawyer said his client did not wish to pursue a defence that he was not criminally responsible (NCR) for the killing.
That left it up to Ross herself to determine whether it was up to the court to allow the hearing, which had already been scheduled for February, to proceed.
In the end, the judge ruled that despite the court having jurisdiction to order the NCR hearing regardless of Crown and defence’s opinions, she would not exercise that right in this case.
In her decision, Ross noted the court did not hear a proven absence of motive from any of the several witnesses at trial, none of whom could testify to Arfmann’s mental capacity.
“The only evidence which could cast further light onto this issue is Mr. Arfmann, but he is not a compellable witness” and has refused to testify, Ross noted.
While Arfmann has refused to acknowledge or discuss the events of Nov. 6, 2017 that led to Davidson’s murder, his psychiatric assessments have determined he was “capable of appreciating the nature and quality of his actions at the time,” the decision reads.
Ross quotes Arfmann’s most recent assessment that says because he won’t discuss his crimes, it “limits the ability to precisely link his psychotic symptoms with the offence.”
Arfmann’s lawyer also told the court at the Jan. 13 hearing that his client was fit to make the instruction not to continue with a NCR defence.
Arfmann’s conviction will now conclude with a sentencing hearing set for Feb. 3, where victim impact statements will be read and Arfmann’s parole eligibility will be officially determined.
Davidson was responding along with other Abbotsford police officers to reports of a stolen vehicle being driven by Arfmann when he was shot in what Crown described as an “ambush.”
Arfmann was arrested near the shooting scene after a standoff with several officers.
Dashcam video played at the trial last summer and released publicly this month shows Arfmann pointing a gun at a pickup truck in a parking lot at the time of the shooting.
Davidson was a 24-year veteran of the police force, and his death drew condolences from across the country and his home in the U.K.