John Albert Buchanan, accused in the September 2017 murder of Richard Sitar in Nanaimo, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

John Albert Buchanan, accused in the September 2017 murder of Richard Sitar in Nanaimo, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Man accused in Nanaimo beating death told police he didn’t hurt victim

Arresting officer takes the stand in John Albert Buchanan’s second-degree murder trial

Video evidence showed the man accused in a beating death became agitated while being questioned by police after he was apprehended.

John Albert Buchanan is on trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for the second-degree murder of Richard Sitar in 2017, and on Thursday the court was shown video of Buchanan being interviewed by Nanaimo RCMP.

Buchanan was arrested at 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after Sitar’s death, near a property on 150 Nicol St. Buchanan was residing in a shack in the backyard there and the arresting officer recounted the day’s events in court Thursday.

Buchanan was taken to the Nanaimo RCMP detachment where he admitted he had taken 0.1 grams of heroin, although the officer told Catherine Hagen, co-Crown counsel, that he didn’t observe any impairment. The police officer interviewed Buchanan at about 10 p.m. that night.

During the interview, Buchanan denied being involved in Sitar’s death and said he was shocked to hear that he had been killed. Buchanan told the officer he last saw Sitar the afternoon he was killed, and didn’t know what happened to him, although he heard on the street that Sitar had “his head banged in or something.”

After the officer showed video stills of Buchanan entering the building shortly before the time of the murder, the accused began questioning the time stamp of the images and said police had been harassing he and his girlfriend.

The officer suggested that Buchanan went back to his residence afterward and immediately changed his clothes, which Buchanan said he didn’t recall. Buchanan also told the officer he had “head injury issues.”

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Buchanan said he returned to his place where he found someone attempting to steal a radio from him. He said he was a nice guy who let people including Sitar push him around.

“He [expletive] beat me up, knocked me out, [expletive] punched me in the head, hit me with [stuff], he’s a [expletive] [expletive] man,” Buchanan said. “I didn’t hurt him. I left … it’s all I can tell you.”

Buchanan referred to a pepper-spraying incident involving he and Sitar at the McDonald’s on Nicol Street in June 2017, where his name was on the police information sheet and after which, he said Sitar “smashed” him up. Buchanan said he was terrified of Sitar.

Last week in court, a corporal with Nanaimo RCMP Integrated Forensic Section testified about searching the backyard of the 150 Nicol St. residence during execution of a search warrant Sept. 14-15, 2017.

She told Leanne Mascolo, co-Crown counsel, that police were looking for a dark-coloured baseball cap with the letter B on the front, a lime green-coloured T-shirt, dark pants, black backpack, white shoes with a dark stripe and a cross-strap satchel. Items matching those descriptions were seized.

During testing at the RCMP precinct, it was discovered that the T-shirt had minuscule stains, which the corporal said tested positive for the presence of blood. The backpack, satchel and a shoe had stains that also tested positive.

Upon cross-examination by Michael Munro, defence counsel, the corporal said besides a duvet cover inside Buchanan’s shelter, from which a swab was taken, there were no items that seemed to have freshly dried blood.

The forensic section officer also said that there are a lot of compounds that create false positive results with the Hemastix Presumptive Blood Test used, one of which is dirt.

The trial is scheduled to continue until Nov. 25.

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