A man accused of an April crime spree in the South Okanagan and Similkameen areas may get off on allegedly shooting an Oliver man, after the key witness died last week.
Afshin Maleki Ighani is accused of shooting Thomas Szajko in Oliver on Apr. 19 this year, and has been going through the court system, leading up to a trial on the matters. But Szajko was the Crown’s key witness on that matter, and he died in his home on Dec. 1 of unspecified causes.
Related: Oliver shooting victim reportedly dies months later
Asked how the trial could go forward without testimony of Szajko, Crown lawyer John Swanson only said “That’s a problem.”
Though Szajko may have made a statement to the police, no testimony would mean the defence has no opportunity to cross-examine Szajko.
Swanson said he is working with police to review evidence and attempt to build up the case without testimony from Szajko.
“We’re working on it,” he said in a brief interview with the Western News.
Related: Alleged Oliver shooter elects trial by judge
Though Ighani may get off without a trial on that matter, he will still need to stand trial over the alleged kidnapping of a woman later that week, as police entered a regional manhunt for him.
Police had surrounded an RV they believed Ighani to be living in at Szajko’s property on the evening of Apr. 19, but after entering the vehicle did not find Ighani.
Later that week, police received reports of a man having kicked another man out of a vehicle and taking a woman with him, leading the police to the Similkameen Valley.
Related: RCMP hunt for alleged shooter
Ighani was later found in a mobile home park in Princeton, where he was arrested and charged on all alleged incidents.
Ighani’s next court appearance is set for Dec. 18 for a preliminary inquiry.