Did Daniel Ruff deliver four fatal blows to his roommate’s head while he was in the fight for his life or did he wait until Warren Welters was passed out?
That’s the question before 12 jurors looking into June, 14, 2015 killing of Welters in his Bernard Avenue home. Both sides in the second degree murder trial that started in a Kelowna courtroom three weeks ago wrapped up their evidence and the jury is set to deliberate this afternoon.
Defence counsel Grant Gray said there was no motive for Ruff to kill his roommate other than the conflict his client had earlier described as a “fight for his life” started by Welters. He told jurors it was a case of self defense.
RELATED: SELF DEFENSE
Crown counsel Colin Forsyth, however, said the motive was simply that Ruff was “pissed off” with his roommate.
Ruff discussed the killing with friends in the aftermath, and Forsyth pointed out that one of those friends testified that he’d said he was pissed off by Welters. Forsyth also said that Ruff told another friend that the two had fought before, and if it happened again he’d kill Welters — testimony that was also rendered in court.
The two men had an acrimonious relationship, that had devolved into physical violence before the fatal incident.
Welters had twice changed the locks to the home in an attempt to keep Ruff out and Ruff had once cut the cords to his own computer to stop Welters from using it.
RELATED: THE MURDER WEAPON
What Forsyth really focused on in closing submissions, however, was the scene of their final altercation.
Welters was found face down on his bed with four fatal hammer blows to his head. Blood spatter and blood pooling indicate that Welters was prone in his bed when he was struck in the head. He also had a blood alcohol level of 250 mg/dL, which Forsyth said would be incapacitating for even a seasoned drinker.
That, he said, doesn’t align well with Ruff’s story that he’d been in the hallway and jumped by Welters during a “violent and dynamic struggle.”
He also pointed out that Ruff said he called 911, pursuing the faint hope that Welters was alive.
RELATED: THE STATEMENT
That was, Forsyth said, a lie and the evidence is in the recording of the call. In a recording played to the jury, the 911 operator repeatedly asked Ruff to check and see if Welters is alive and he responds each time by saying “he’s dead.”
In the aftermath of the killing Ruff has said he was in shock, and that’s why he didn’t come clean right away. He wanted to clear his head and sober up.
Forsyth said that he had the presence of mind to clean himself up and put the hammer back in the toolbox from which it was originally removed.
The jury is set to get its instructions from BC Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames this afternoon and then will start deliberating after.
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