Friends and family of murder victim Paul Prestbakmo wore memorial masks outside Surrey Provincial Court Jan. 14, 2021. (From left) Family friend Tyler Whitley, sister Angela Prestbakmo, childhood friend Jimmy Slater, brother Steve Prestbakmo, Semiahmoo First Nation councillor Roxanne Charles and sister Liz Prestbakmo. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Two accused in 2019 South Surrey murder were ‘really angry,’ pacing at party: witness

'We had this really strong gut feeling that something was really wrong'

A youth who testified Thursday (Jan. 14) in the trial of two teens charged in the death of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo said she and her friends had a bad feeling after two unexpected guests to a home gathering demonstrated distressing behaviour after returning from an early-morning walk.

“We obviously knew we didn’t want to be there anymore,” the witness – whose identity is protected by a publication ban – said in Surrey Provincial Court, of being at the house upon the return of the two males.

“We all just had this really strong gut feeling that something was really wrong.”

Responding to questions from Crown counsel Louise Kenworthy, the witness recounted the concerns in detailing her experiences in the late-night hours of Aug. 15 and early-morning hours of Aug. 16, 2019.

The time frame includes the approximate hours in which a White Rock senior was assaulted and Prestbakmo was stabbed to death, the latter in a parking lot at the southwest corner of 18 Avenue and 152 Street.

READ MORE: 45-year-old ID’ed as victim of South Surrey stabbing

READ MORE: Trial underway in 2019 murder of South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo

The youth on trial – later identified in court by the witness as the two males who had exhibited the distressing behaviour – are charged with aggravated assault and second-degree murder in connection with those two attacks.

As friends and family members of Prestbakmo listened from the gallery, the witness – supported by Surrey RCMP’s victim-services dog, Cambria – described arriving at a friend’s house for a sleepover around 7 p.m. on Aug. 15, and an evening that included walking to Save-On-Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart for snacks, playing Just Dance on the Wii and simply hanging out.

She told the court that she and her friend group were “kind of weirded out” when the first of the two males in question showed up to the house sometime after 10:30 p.m., “because we didn’t know that he was coming before.”

He and a second male, who entered the home about 15-20 minutes later toting a bottle of Crown Royal whisky, started drinking “probably about right away,” and emptied the bottle between them “pretty quickly,” the witness said.

After consuming the alcohol, one of the males was “slightly more angry and a bit more temperamental,” while the other became “really angry, at me and (another in the friend group) especially.”

“He was yelling at us a lot, kind of like hitting walls, and it was, I was in the kitchen with (three others)… and then (the male) comes in and I kind of made a joke with him. He, like, slammed the fridge door and started screaming at us,” the witness said.

The first male was “getting pretty mad” at the fact his girlfriend didn’t want to spend a lot of time with him, she said.

The witness said she and three friends who were upset about the goings-on with the two males left the house for a walk around 1 a.m. and discussed waking those who had already fallen asleep and moving their sleepover to another house.

“We wanted to get away from everyone else at the house because they were really stressing us out,” she said. “We went back because we decided to just wait it out.”

Around 2:15 a.m., the two males were talking about going for a walk to “cool down,” the witness said, noting her recollection of the time was “a rough estimate.” After that conversation, “we didn’t see them for about 20 minutes… no sign of them at all.”

She later said that she didn’t see the pair for 30 or 40 minutes after the conversation.

The witness said when she did see them next, “they seemed really stressed out and, like, yelling a lot.”

After apparently locking themselves in the main bathroom for about five minutes – information the witness said she heard from one of her friends who had tried to access the bathroom – both of the males were pacing through the house.

She said she saw one “holding something behind his back,” but testified she could not see what that item was; that he moved his hands in front of him as soon as he got close to her.

The other male “was mainly just yelling at us (while pacing), telling us not to look at him,” she said.

“He was really angry.”

Defence counsel Michael Klein raised the difference in the witness’s time estimates during cross-examination.

Klein also took issue with her description of the one male yelling at his girlfriend. The witness had described the teen as “pretty snarky… not super loud, but pretty aggressive.”

“You’re aware that (they) are accused of a very serious crime?” Klein said, also confirming with the witness that what transpired has been the subject of “a lot” of conversation in the months since.

After the witness agreed that yelling is something that’s done “in a raised voice,” Klein said what she described didn’t fit with what actually happened.

“For a lack of better words, yeah,” the witness responded.

The witness agreed with Klein’s contention that by using the descriptor, “now everything that (he) does takes on a far more sinister tone.”

The trial got underway Jan. 11, and is scheduled for 24 days.

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