Daniel Ruff told jurors Wednesday that he did kill his former roommate during a fight two years ago, but he hadn’t intended to.
“I struck him with a hammer,” he said, taking the stand in his own defence.
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“I was in a fight for my life.”
Ruff has COPD and said if he hadn’t fought he would have died.
“When a man who is bigger than you is on you, trying to choke you … I had to fight back,” he said. “I was fighting back.”
Warren Welters, 51, died from four blows to the head with a hammer, and Ruff claimed the last strike was delivered to make sure that Welters stayed down — it wasn’t intended to be a fatal swing.
The two men had an acrimonious relationship and argued regularly.
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“They were significant (arguments) but we worked our way around it most the time,” he said.
He also said they both drank heavily and the reason he wasn’t forthright with police or the 911 operator in the immediate aftermath of the crime is that he was shaken by all that had occurred.
“I was totally distraught — in shock,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what had just taken place… I was in denial.”
He said that he intended to come clean with the authorities but wanted to sober up first.
“I was trying to process everything,” he said. “I needed to sober up and have a clear head before I said anything.”
Crown counsel Colin Forsyth pointed out that Ruff had a very clear set of lies set up when he spoke with Const. Paul Mlait.
In that interview, Ruff said the last time he saw his roommate alive was about 8: 30 a.m. June. 14, 2015.
“He came out and I was just drinking coffee and he asked if I was going for a run … a beer run,” Ruff told Mlait, in a recorded statement that was played for jurors Wednesday.
“I said, ‘no.’”
Then, said Ruff, he went out to see friends.
Upon his return later in the day, he went upstairs, knocked on Welter’s door and asked if he wanted to go for a beer.
When he didn’t respond he told police he opened the door, saw blood splatter, touched Welters and called 911.
Mlait then asked Ruff what he thought happened.
“He looked like he got smoked in the back of the head,” Ruff said, pointing out that there was blood splatter on the walls.
The way he set up that story, said Forsyth on Wednesday, indicated he had a clear enough mind to try and escape the consequences of killing his roommate.