As the fireworks above exploded, a knife was driven through Esa Carriere’s heart.
Now, more than two-and-a-half years after that fateful Canada Day in downtown Kelowna, two of the four accused in Carriere’s death are on trial for manslaughter.
Nathan Truant, 28, and Noah Vaten, 22, each pleaded not guilty to the July 1, 2018, killing as their trial began on Monday morning (Feb. 22). Crown prosecutor Martin Nadon outlined his case during his opening statement, saying the testimony of more than 20 witnesses, as well as security camera footage, will show the two men were part of a group that attacked and fatally injured Carriere.
Nadon claims Carriere was involved in an argument with a group of people near Kasugai Gardens in downtown Kelowna that night. He said Carriere possibly struck Vaten before running off on foot. According to the Crown, security camera footage will show four people pursued Carriere, eventually taking him down after about 15 seconds and began beating him. While the footage shows the attack, it is not clear enough to identify the people involved, Nadon said.
The Crown alleges it was Vaten who stabbed Carriere in the heart during the attack. Carriere was pronounced dead shortly after midnight on July 2 after failed resuscitation attempts at Kelowna General Hospital.
Nadon said one of the youths was apprehended by a nearby security guard, and the other waited for police to arrive. Vaten and Truant left the scene, eventually making it to Rutland.
Vaten was arrested early July 2 for causing a disturbance in front of the Rutland Community Policing office. He was held in a cell overnight, where the Crown alleges he confessed his involvement in the attack to another man in police custody. The man didn’t take him seriously but was contacted by police for a statement after police connected Vaten to the attack.
Truant and Vaten were both arrested more than six months later, on Jan. 25, 2019. Truant was arrested in Kelowna while Vaten was in Manitoba at the time of his arrest.
The court has not yet tested the prosecution’s claims.
Two people who were youths at the time of the offence were also charged with manslaughter. Due to them being underage, they cannot be named.
One of the youths pleaded guilty to a lesser assault charge on the day her trial was set to begin in November. The court sentenced her to a 15-month intensive support and supervision program with several conditions, and the Crown stayed her manslaughter charge.
The other youth is expected to face trial next month.
The Crown’s case against Vaten and Truant is expected to continue through March 10. The defence will then be allowed to present its evidence.
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