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Defence cross examines alleged victim in kidnapping trial

Cross examination of the victim in an alleged kidnapping and assault trial by jury began today.

Three Oliver residents — Andrew Miller, Nicolette Miller and Leonard Thompson — are facing charges of kidnapping, unlawful confinement or imprisonment and assault causing bodily harm. Frank Guenther first took the stand on Thursday recounting an incident that happened to him on Feb. 28, 2009 where he was forced into a vehicle, allegedly by the three accused, and was driven from Oliver to Pyramid Park near Summerland and was punched several times in the head during the trip. Guenther told the court his assailants said on the drive they were upset over a bad transaction for an above-ground pool and how they were hired because Guenther had fallen behind on a drug debt. Guenther said once they got to Pyramid Park he was told to strip, beaten up to the point of passing out, and when another car arrived with an unknown person, he was put in a headlock and dragged to the beach area. It was here where he said he managed to get loose from his assailants and swam into Okanagan Lake. He said rocks were thrown at him so he waded out to chest deep water and waited until he believed the people who attacked him were gone. Once he felt it was safe he returned to the beach and ran to the highway flagging down a vehicle for help.

Bob Maxwell, defence counsel for Thompson, cross-examined Guenther confronting him on statements that he made during the preliminary hearing. Guenther admitted he lied during the hearing in stating that he had been a drug trafficker himself for eight years. Guenther said on the witness stand on Thursday he had been a crack addict for eight years and a drug dealer for three. Guenther qualified his original statement in the hearing during cross-examination on Thursday stating it all depends on what was considered trafficking.

"That would have been a lie," said Guenther or his preliminary hearing answer. "I was trafficking, but I was doing it for my habit."

Guenther said "on a bad day" he would smoke seven grams of crack a day and "on a good day" he would smoke 14 grams. In order to support that habit he said he would sell to a group of 10 different people who were street-level dealers, in turn he would make about $1,600 a day to help pay for his own habit, his hotel, food and other items. Still, he claimed "every morning I had to scrape coins together to buy a pack of cigarettes."

Guenther admitted he bought from suppliers in Oliver and Okanagan Falls and that most of the drugs came from Kelowna. He said the Millers and Thompson were not drug dealers, although he had smoked crack with Nicolette Miller and Thompson before.

When asked how the relationship between Nicolette Miller and Leonard Thompson fell apart by the defence, Guenther said some of it had to do with an above-ground pool. Guenther said he lent his truck, which the truck bed had been the storage place for his sister's above-ground pool, out to other drug dealers. It took him three days to track the truck down to get it back, and when he did the pool was gone. He heard it was at Thompson's place and when he went to retrieve it he said Thompson and Nicolette Miller did not hide the fact they had it and offered the information that they had purchased it for $100. Guenther told the couple that it was a mistake and had not been for sale and said they agreed to let him take it back. He told the court that he mentioned to the couple the pool was in fact for sale by his sister, but was worth far more than that and he would find out what it was worth and $100 could be taken off that total. Guenther then said he avoided the couple after that day, although they made several attempts to try and track him down.

"There is more to it but the pool was definitely," said Guenther who stopped mid-sentence. "For $100 I caused a lot of problems."

The trial is scheduled to continue until April 19. To read the article on the opening day of the trial visit http://www.bclocalnews.com/okanagan_similkameen/pentictonwesternnews/news/119438544.html

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