Fight over cigarette led to fatal stabbing of Winnipeg lawyer, court hears

Click to play video: 'Jury hears how Winnipeg lawyer was killed' Jury hears how Winnipeg lawyer was killed
More than two years after a Winnipeg lawyer was killed while walking to his car, the man accused is now in front of a jury. The crown calls it a case of senseless escalation that should have been a harmless verbal exchange. Joe Scarpelli reports – Nov 16, 2021

More than two years after a Winnipeg lawyer was stabbed and killed while walking to his car, the man accused in his death is now in front of a jury.

Over the last two days, court has heard accounts of the events that led up to the death of Justin Silicz, 32, in June 2019.

Witness Andrea Bosnjak told the jury it all started over an ask for a cigarette between two groups of strangers.

The night Silicz was killed, Bosnjak told court she met with him and his friend Tony Hazjler for drinks, before the three of them went to an after hours nightclub.

On the way back to Silicz’s car on Winnipeg Avenue north of Notre Dame Avenue, Bosnjak testified a group of three men asked for a cigarette.

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“I said something along the lines of, ‘Yes, just tell me a joke,'” Bosnjak said. “One of them replied with a joke that was something along the lines of, ‘Your ass is a joke.'”

Read more: Winnipeg police arrest suspect in local lawyer Justin Silicz’s murder

Hazjler then told the group it wasn’t a nice thing to say, according to Bosnjak.

She said the group responded with, ‘What are you going to do about it?’

“They probably said that over 10 times,’ Bosnjak said.

She said one of the men, who was wearing red pants, approached Hazjler and she thought they were going to start fighting.

Silicz, however, tried to get in between the pair to deescalate the situation.

Bosnjak said the man in the red pants threw a punch that looked like it was intended for Hazjler, but hit Silicz instead.

“Then they began fighting, like physically,” she said.

She testified that she saw Silicz fall to the ground and couldn’t get back up.

The other two men with the man in the red pants then approached Bosnjak for a cigarette again, when she said she told them to get a handle on their friend who just hurt Silicz.

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Read more: Winnipeg police ask for public’s help seeking suspects in lawyer’s homicide (June 2019)

The man in the red pants and his two friends then walked away, according to Bosnjak, who then attended to Silicz.

“I asked him if he was OK a few times but he wasn’t responding,” she said.

Hazjler then tried to pick Silicz up and noticed two ‘cuts or stab wounds’ on his torso.

Bosnjak said she immediately called 911 and used her shirt to apply pressure to the wounds until police and paramedics arrived.

“He was breathing at first but then he wasn’t anymore,” she told court.

In an agreed statement of facts presented in court, Keishawn Mitchell, 21, admits to stabbing Silicz, but has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

The trial is scheduled for two weeks.

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