Second degree murder trial begins for man accused of killing Winnipeg Transit driver

A jury trial started Monday afternoon for a man accused of killing an on-duty Winnipeg Transit driver.

Irvine Jubal Fraser, 58, died nearly two years ago in the early morning hours of Feb. 14 after the final stop of his shift at the University of Manitoba.

The Crown alleges Fraser was stabbed to death.

Brian Kyle Thomas has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder.

In his opening statement to jurors Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson said the evidence introduced by the Crown will demonstrate the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

Eyrikson told jurors Fraser was a bus driver working in Winnipeg at the time of his death.

The Crown alleges one of the passengers who is the accused got on Fraser’s bus at a stop in downtown Winnipeg before it travelled along Pembina Hwy. toward the U of M.

Once the bus reached its destination the Crown says Fraser noticed Thomas, the lone passenger left inside, was sleeping and asked him to get off before physically removing him from the bus.

“Mr. Fraser forcibly removed him,” Eyrikson told jurors. “Whatever he did in removing the accused did not justify in any way what happened to Mr. Fraser shortly after.”

The Crown alleges Fraser stood in the front door of the bus to prevent the accused from getting back on when the accused tried to strike him and then spat on Fraser.

“It is once Mr. Fraser left the bus we say the accused stabbed him multiple times causing his death,” Eyrikson explained. “We are saying when you are given all of the evidence the Crown will be able to prove the accused is guilty of second degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Eyrikson told the jury the Crown will play security video from the bus starting from the moment the accused got on board.

Thomas’s lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, told court the defence isn’t disputing Thomas was on the bus.

The first witness called by the Crown was Patrol Sgt. Brian Neumann, a forensic specialist with the Winnipeg Police Service.

Neumann told jurors he was sent to the scene of the stabbing at 7:30 in the morning on Feb. 14 just as U of M students were beginning to arrive on campus.

He testified two buses, including the one Fraser had been operating, were still on scene, still running and indicated they were ‘out of service’ when he arrived on campus.

Neumann testified the crime scene was secured and buses bringing students to campus that morning were re-routed to a different stop while officers investigated.

Neumann also testified he took photos of Thomas in hospital documenting abrasions to his face, abdomen and chest.

The trial was supposed to start Monday morning but court heard it was delayed due to flooding in the Woodsworth Building which prevented the Crown from retrieving some of the materials it needed to access for the case.

The trial is scheduled to take place over two weeks.