Colin John has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. (file photo)

Accused pleads not guilty as Trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder

Colin John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

Thirty months after Derek Descoteau, a 20-year-old Chemainus man, was stabbed to death, the murder trial for the man accused of killing him has begun.

Colin John is facing a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Descoteau and a second count of attempted murder in connection with an attack on Janelle Guyatt, Descoteau’s girlfriend.

John was charged following a bloody attack in May of 2016 at a residence on Caswell Street. Descoteau and Guyatt were both stabbed several times with Descoteau dying en route to hospital. Guyatt suffered five knife wounds and spent two weeks in hospital. She is still undergoing treatment for a serious injury that has limited the use of one arm.

On Monday, Guyatt was the first witness called by Crown counsel Ken Paziuk.

Now 18, Guyatt said she and Descoteau were having lunch and watching a movie shortly after noon when a stranger appeared in the basement suite belonging to Derek.

She then described the attack.

“I heard the dog growl and there was somebody standing behind the couch,” Guyatt testified.

“He was holding a knife in his hand, above his shoulder. I felt a bad pain at the bottom of my neck.

“Then this shirtless man jumped over the couch and started attacking both of us. Derek was trying to get me out of the way, saying ‘don’t hurt her’ and he attacked Derek.”

The room was poorly lit and Guyatt struggled to recall certain specifics of the attack but she says Descoteau and the shirtless man wound up on the floor as she made her escape.

She made her way outside and screamed for help.

“I’d lost a lot of blood and my arm was useless. I tripped going up the stairs and stumbled and ran to the road. I was yelling for help the whole time.

“There was a lady getting groceries out of the back of her car, she didn’t move. I was soaked in blood from the neck down,” she explained in a soft voice in the Duncan courtroom that contained about 20 members of her family and Descoteau’s family.

“A couple minutes later someone else came down from Caswell and another lady came and she was on the phone. I remember hearing Derek yelling for help.”

She told the court how Derek emerged from the house, covered in blood, holding his arm.

“Help, I’m gonna die,” she heard him say.

Asked by Paziuk if she could identify her attacker, Guyatt turned in the witness box and pointed directly at John who was seated in the prisoner’s box.

Throughout the day, John sat motionless in the box, his head bowed.

Before Guyatt took the stand, John’s lawyer Scott Sheets and Crown counsel Paziuk informed Justice Lisa Warren that John had requested that he be tried by judge alone, rather than by judge and jury.

Warren agreed to the change and John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

John appeared heavier than he had been at the time of his arrest in May of 2016. He arrived in court wearing leg irons and a red Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre jumpsuit.

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