The trial of Peter Anthony Kampos who is accused of shooting a man in the Chilliwack River Valley in 2017 began Tuesday in BC Supreme Court Tuesday with a re-election from jury trial to trial by judge alone.
Kampos is charged with attempted murder in an alleged incident on March 25, 2017 that ended with the victim, Cameron Rose, driving away after being shot in the right shoulder while sitting in his vehicle, racing down Chilliwack Lake Road, and finally stumbling across members of the military involved in a training exercise.
Jury selection took place on Oct. 1 with dozens of people in attendance with the scheduled trial set to being on Oct. 9. But late on Oct. 8, Crown counsel was informed that Kampos wanted instead to re-elect, instead choosing a trial by Justice alone.
“We felt that fits in our best interest,” Kampos told Justice Martha Devlin in court on Oct. 9. when asked to confirm his decision.
After that, the jury of eight women and six men – including the 12 jurors and two alternates – were called into the courtroom and dismissed.
“What many of you may view as good news, the trial is now going to proceed by way of judge alone,” Justice Devlin said. “Which means that all of you are discharged. I want to thank you very much for your time.”
The parents of the shooting victim in the case were in the courtroom Oct. 9, as was Kampos’s father and his father’s wife.
After a brief break in which lead Crown counsel John Lester adjusted his opening statements for a Justice rather than a jury, the trial began.
Kampos was again ordered to plea to the three charges he faces: attempt murder with a firearm; discharging a firearm with intent to wound/disfigure; and intentionally discharging a firearm into or at a place, knowing that or being reckless as to whether another person is present in the place.
When asked how he pleaded to the first charge Kampos simply said “not guilty.” When asked about the second charges he said “not guilty, two words.”
When asked about the third charge, he seemed to dislike the wording of the criminal code charge saying: “It’s a vague statement. I’ll plead not guilty.”
Kampos otherwise sat calmly in the prisoner’s box, no shackles of any kind, wearing blue jeans and a grey sweatshirt.
The trial began with Lester’s overview of the Crown’s largely circumstantial case against Kampos, who is accused of driving in front of a parked vehicle around the Ford Mountain Forest Service Road in the afternoon on March 25, 2017, and firing at least eight shots from a semi-automatic rifle into the vehicle.
“There is very strong evidence that a shooting took place, considerably strong evidence that [Kampos] was the shooter. The question will be, what was his intent,” Lester told the court, pointing to the need to prove intent for an attempted murder charge.
“The point is that everything in the evidence is consistent with Mr. Kampos sitting in the driver’s seat of that vehicle and firing rounds at Mr. Rose.”
Lester summarized the evidence the court would see in the coming days that included that four rounds went through Rose’s windshield, two through the driver’s side door, and one was lodged in the car above the driver’s side door.
Two spent shell casings were found at the scene of the alleged incident and six more were found inside Kampos’s vehicle, all Lester said would be shown by forensic testimony to match the rifle Kampos had in his hand when he was arrested shortly after Rose was shot.
Crown’s case will argue that Kampos drove up in front of Rose’s vehicle, which was parked backwards in a clearing off Chilliwack Lake Road, and the alleged shooter fired directly at him, striking Rose in the right shoulder.
The 39-year-old Rose managed to get his car in gear, drive around the shooter’s vehicle, subsequently speeding down the road until he arrived at the Canadian’s military’s General Vokes Range where a military group happened to be training.
Lester explained in his opening statements that evidence would show that Kampos legally purchased a rifle at a Canadian Tire in Terrace on March 23, two days before the Chilliwack River Valley shooting.
What did not come up in opening statements and may not come up at all in the trial, is that there was a shooting spree reported at vehicles on March 24 in various communities between Terrace and the Lower Mainland including Houston, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof, Prince George, Quesnel and 100 Mile House.
All those shootings were reported to be from a blue Dodge Caliber with Ontario licence plates, a vehicle with the same description of the one in the Rose shooting in Chilliwack on March 25.
The first witness in the trial that began Tuesday was Const. Julie Bower who was the lead investigator in the RCMP’s serious crimes unit on the case. She said many units of the force were involved that day when they were all called in because of an active shooter incident. From Emergency Response Team to the Lower Mainland Police Dog Service to RCMP Traffic Services, the Air 8 helicopter, the Explosives Disposal Unit, as well as general duty officers, numerous RCMP units were involved.
“It was an all hands-on deck type of response,” Bower said.
The trial continued this week and was scheduled to continue into next week.