The trial of a man accused of the attempted murder of an RCMP officer near Argenta in 2019 began Monday with an unexpected guilty plea to a lesser charge.
Harry Richardson, who is facing five charges included two of attempted murder with a firearm, is alleged to have broke into a home and fired on Kaslo RCMP officer Const. Shaun Kennedy and reserve Const. Darryl Hammond on Oct. 10, 2019.
Richardson, who is representing himself, pled not guilty to every charge except one, wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer. His admission of guilt appeared to surprise Judge Philip Seagram in the Nelson provincial courtroom.
In her opening statement, Crown counsel Rebecca Smyth told the court an Argenta resident was taking care of a friend’s home while they were away on holiday. She noticed someone had broken into the home, and decided not to enter.
Instead, the person called the home and was surprised when a man who was not the owner answered. She then called police.
When Kennedy and Hammond arrived at the home, Smyth said Richardson allegedly threw gasoline down from a second-story window and lit the ground in front of the building on fire.
Richardson then allegedly opened fire on the officers. Hammond, who had taken cover behind a tree, received three gun shot wounds to his arm and hand.
Smyth said another officer who later arrived was also nearly shot, which accounts for Richardson’s second attempted murder charge.
A long standoff ensued through the night, and ended after Richardson allegedly escaped from the home before being apprehended.
Kennedy, Smyth’s opening witness, told the court he had previously been searching for Richardson after a male had refused to leave Meadow Creek Store near Argenta on Sept. 25. Kennedy said Richardson was later identified through a police database that showed two outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Kennedy also said he had later spotted and chased Richardson through the Argenta Community Hall, but had lost track of him in the surrounding forest.
The trial is expected to take 15 days, in part because Smyth told Seagram she will be calling 25 witnesses to the stand.
Richardson said he does not expect to call any witnesses on his behalf.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.