Trial starts for a man accused of murdering Richard Sitar in Nanaimo

Trial starts for a man accused of murdering Richard Sitar in Nanaimo
WatchA trial began at the Nanaimo courthouse Monday for a man accused of murdering another man in his own apartment in September 2017.

A second-degree murder trial began Monday at the Nanaimo courthouse for a 49-year-old man accused of killing 42-year-old Richard Sitar.

John Buchanan is facing a second-degree murder in the death of Sitar.

Sitar was killed in his Nicol Street apartment on Sept. 11, 2017. Buchanan has pleaded not guilty.

“I am not guilty no and the two guys who did actually did commit the murder have been murdered themselves,” said Buchanan.

In its opening, Crown counsel says it has surveillance footage of Buchanan arriving and leaving the victim’s second-floor apartment.

The victim’s wife of 22 years arrived soon after and found her husband dead, on a couch, covered in blood.

Those nearby said, in interviews the day after, she started screaming.

“Screaming hysterically saying he’s not breathing, that kind of thing and who could’ve done this? How did nobody hear it happen cause I’m assuming she thought it would be loud,” said Chris Hadley in an interview the day after.

The Crown says a pathologist determined Sitar died of blunt force trauma. He suspects Sitar was hit seven to ten times in the head.

The Crown says the accused and the victim knew each other.

Buchanan was arrested by police two days after the killing.

In the months that followed, the Crown says Buchanan’s cellmate in Victoria gave a statement to police about specific details about the murder that the accused told him, including an argument over drugs and a stolen bike that led to Buchanan taking a bat and hitting Sitar until he was dead.

The cellmate says Buchanan told him he concealed that bat up his sleeve when he left so it wouldn’t be seen by surveillance cameras.

The Crown says police did not find the weapon.

Buchanan says his former cellmate can’t be trusted.

“He took the police report they had on me from my lawyer and he read that and basically said ‘Oh yeah I think he did it too’ but I never actually said anything to that guy. He’s just a lying,” said Buchanan.

The Crown says Buchanan has given a number of statements to police and his version of events has kept changing.

The Crown is expecting it will call up to 30 witnesses and the trial is expected to last five and a half weeks.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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