Guilty verdict returned at London, Ont. murder trial

After deliberating for about three and a half hours, the jury at the second degree murder trial of Robert Ashley Williams has returned with a verdict of guilty as charged.

The jury started deliberations at around 4:15 pm Tuesday after hearing the closing addresses from both the Crown and the defense along with the charge from Justice Michael McArthur.

Throughout the two-week trial the defense argued that Williams, 39, acted in self defense when he stabbed Dereck Szaflarski, 27, five times after an argument along Richmond Street in downtown London in May of 2018.

The court heard that Szaflarski had been out partying on his birthday and after the bars closed he got into a confrontation with Williams.

The jury has heard that there was a heated argument along Richmond Street in downtown London with the victim allegedly calling the accused the “N” word.

“Mr. Szaflarski did use that word in his verbal exchange with my client,” said Uwagboe.

In a video entered as an exhibit during the trial you see Szaflarski rush towards the accused.

“It was an accelerated physical attack on my client,” Uwagboe said. “Mr. Williams was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Mr. Szaflarski.”

Four days after the incident, Williams turned himself into police and has since pleaded not guilty to second degree murder.

The Crown argued that Williams intended to kill the well-known fitness instructor after the accused got out of his face along Richmond Row and pulled out a knife.

“What happened here happened on video and it’s clearly murder,” Spangenberg said. “This is not self-defense. This could have been avoided.”

The Crown reminded the jury that Szaflarski was stabbed five times adding, “the actual stabbing part happens in a blink of an eye. Mr. Williams had the knife and he used it repeatedly.”

The Crown also added that seconds after the stabbing Williams took off in a hurry.

A conviction of second degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, however the jury and Justice McArthur have a say on how long Williams will serve before being eligible for parole.

The matter has been put over until Wednesday to select a date for a sentencing hearing.

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