Mistrial application denied for Princeton double-murderer

The application for a mistrial relating to the Princeton double murder in 2013 was denied Thursday.

John Ike Koopmans escorted by sheriffs after he found his mistrial application was denied on Thursday at the Penticton courthouse.

The application for a mistrial relating to the Princeton double murder in 2013 was denied Thursday.

John Ike Koopmans, 51, was convicted in April for the second degree murders of Robert Keith Wharton, 43, and Rosemary Fox, 32, as well as the attempted murder of Bradley Martin, 51.

However, Koopman’s defence counsel Don Skogstad applied for a mistrial on the charge of attempted murder in August. Skogstad said the jury was not given options for lesser charges prior to their deliberation in April. The lesser charges would have included unlawfully causing bodily harm, wounding and assault causing bodily harm, but the jury was only presented with the options of guilty or not guilty on the attempted murder charge.

“This was a non-lethal shot and (Martin) wasn’t pursued and (Koopmans) had no motive. Did he really want to kill this guy? Or just get him out of the way,” Skogstad said outside Supreme Court on Thursday.

He said the options for lesser charges were overlooked by all involved at the end of the eight-week trial.

“There was three of us in that room. The judge, me and Crown. None of us thought of that. It was pretty hectic on that Thursday night,” Skogstad said.

Justice Miriam Maisonville ruled she did not have the Supreme Court jurisdiction to make an assessment on the matter, and that it would have to be taken to the B.C. Court of Appeal for review.

“I believe that this is the proper assessment to be made by the court of appeal and not the proper function for me to say,” Maisonville said.

“It’s an emerging area where it looks like the trend is that these errors should get corrected at the lower court, but this judge feels that it hasn’t,” Skogstad said after the proceedings.

The Crown and defence both presented case law in a tricky legal area regarding the jurisdiction of a judge post-verdict but pre-sentence.

“I find that there are limited circumstances in which a mistrial can be declared by the court following the jury’s verdict of guilty, but in this situation this is not one of those appropriate situations where the court should exercise its discretion to declare a mistrial,” Maisonville said.

Skogstad told the Western News that an appeal is being considered.

“From the day of the conviction, I have a client who is adamant about his innocence and we have learned additional information since the trial,” Skogstad said. “There’s lots of reasons to think there will be an appeal.”

Koopmans is expected to be handed his sentence on Oct. 6, as the multi-day sentencing proceedings begin Sept. 25. The length of the sentence could range from 17 to 30 years, and the issue of parole eligibility will also be discussed.

In April, the seven jurors recommended a 15-year minimum of time served before becoming eligible for parole for each count of second-degree murder; five jurors made no recommendation. The decision is left up to Justice Maisonville, though the recommendations from the jury will be taken into consideration.

Koopmans was quiet and showed no emotion when hearing the mistrial application was denied. He faces two mandatory life sentences.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

The tragic tale of two Summerland men who perished on Christmas Day 1908

More than a century later, the events surrounding the men’s deaths are still somewhat of a mystery.

‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’ coming to the South Okanagan

Comedian Mike Delamont’s show opens on March 14 at Venables Theatre in Oliver.

Fire consumes unit at Osoyoos hotel

Fire chief proud of crew’s quick response, says result could have been a lot worse.

Penticton Search and Rescue issues advisory after second snowmobiler stranded in two weeks

The snowmobiler was able to snowshoe back to safety, without knowing that anyone was looking for him.

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

UBCO announces new top boss for Okanagan campus

Lesley Cormack will start in the position this summer

Nine West Kelowna athletes to go to B.C. Winter Games

The athletes will compete in biathlon and cross country ski

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Most Read