Trial begins for man accused of murder at Buzz Coffee House in Nanaimo

Trial begins for man accused of murder at Buzz Coffee House in Nanaimo

A trial is underway for a man accused of murdering a 79-year-old man in 2022 inside the Buzz Coffee House in Nanaimo.

James Turok pleaded not guilty Monday and his lawyers are arguing he should be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

The 31-year-old father has been in custody since police arrested him at the Buzz Coffee House after finding him hiding under a desk just steps from 79-year-old Eric Kutzner who he is accused of killing on Feb. 12, 2022.

“He’s pleading not guilty and as far as I see he’s as guilty as they come. That gets me angry because he’s not taking responsibility,” said Francine Baker, the victim’s daughter, who is among the family attending the trial.

In an agreed statement of facts, it was revealed Turok, then 30 years old, crashed his car into a median on Aulds Road in the morning. It was reported to police and when they arrived they found the keys in the ignition but no Turok. They went to his Metral Drive home but he wasn’t there either.

Turok then turned up at the Buzz Coffee House, 2.5 kilometres from the crash site. He entered through an unlocked door where he found Eric Kutzner getting the shop ready for the day.

At 8:45 a.m. two female employees arrived to find their usual entry door locked. Through the window, they could see Kutzner’s legs, blood and a second man walking around dripping blood. They called 911 and asked to be let in but when Turok unlocked the door they decided not to go in.

“Which was very wise of them not to go in,” said Baker who agrees the outcome could’ve been worse. “We could be looking at two young people also.”

Police arrived, broke through the door and tasered Turok twice as he was resisting arrest. Kutzner, who had a rag stuffed in his mouth, was declared dead by BC Ambulance. An autopsy found Kutzner had been stabbed to death. He had been stabbed 12 times.

“What makes me angry is that he’s not a little boy. Mr. Turok is a man and he took on an 80-year-old man but one that was unable to defend himself,” said Baker.

When police arrested Turok he said “I’m not guilty. He’s a zombie. He’s a zombie.”

After trying to self harm himself in police cells he claimed to paramedics that he was “…a genius assisting Elon Musk.”

The only two witnesses scheduled for the trial are two doctors. The first to take the stand is an expert in forensic psychiatry.

“I know there will never be justice,” said Baker. “But I’d like to know we did everything we could to keep his memory in good standing. He was the most fun. No matter what happened in your life he was always there behind you.”

The trial into what happened at the Buzz Coffee House is expected to last two or three days.

In the days following the murder the Kutzner’s grandson who co-owned the coffee shop said he hoped Turok will get the help he needs.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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