Self-defense claim made in London, Ont. murder trial

The defense at the murder trial of Robert Ashley Williams began its case Tuesday by saying the accused acted in self-defence four years ago and that he did not intend to kill anyone.

In his opening address, defense lawyer Christopher Uwagboe told the jury, “The central issue in this case is whether Mr. Williams acted in self-defence…he did act in self-defence, and did not intend to kill.”

Uwagboe said Robert Ashley Williams, 39, was in downtown London along Richmond Row in May 2018 to get a bite to eat with a friend when Dereck Szaflarski, 27, crossed in front of his car on foot, and the accused was forced to slam on the brakes.

The court has heard that harsh words were exchanged between the two.

“I have [Williams] heard Mr. Szaflarski say ‘F—k you, N——-‘, causing him to stop…and then pull over his car,” said Uwagboe.

The lawyer said Williams became fearful when the victim walked towards him saying, “That it was this action that caused him to produce a knife from his pocket.”

He said Williams was then pushed towards a storefront glass window, and “He [Williams] made the decision to stab Mr. Szaflarski to free himself from the attack.”

The court has heard that Szaflarski, a well-known fitness instructor, was out celebrating his birthday and had been partying when he was stabbed five times, eventually dying from his injuries.

Williams, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in this case, is expected to take the stand and testify when the trial resumes on Wednesday.

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