Security was heavy at the Abbotsford courthouse Tuesday morning, as Oscar Arfmann – the man accused of killing Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson on Nov. 6 – made his first appearance.
Sheriffs were stationed outside the building and directed visitors to enter through a metal detector – a process not usually in place at the provincial courthouse.
Arfmann, 65, was soon led into the prisoner’s dock of courtroom 103. He wore the standard-issue orange prison jumpsuit, and his long grey hair was pulled into a messy ponytail.
Arfmann squinted and remained calm during his two-minute appearance, in which Crown counsel Theresa Iandiorio and defence lawyer Simon Buck indicated that the proceedings would be adjourned until Jan. 12.
Buck said he anticipated that only one more court date would be needed “prior to any other proceedings where evidence is called,” and said that Arfmann will make all his appearances in person, with none via video.
The judge addressed the delay in the next court date.
“This is a serious matter. Of course, these things sometimes take some time to get started,” he said.
Outside the courthouse, BC Prosecution Service spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the appearance on Jan. 12 will involve determining the next stage of the proceedings.
This could include either setting a date for a preliminary inquiry – which determines whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial in BC Supreme Court – or waiving the hearing altogether.
McLaughlin said he has no information about whether Arfmann will enter a guilty plea or whether a psychiatric assessment has been conducted.
“As the matter is now before the court, BC Prosecution Service will have no further comment on the circumstances of the offence, the personal circumstances of the offender or the details of his arrest,” he said.
McLaughlin also addressed the delay in the proceedings.
“It’s somewhat longer than usual, but counsel has assured us that matters will proceed fairly expeditiously from that point,” he said.
Arfmann, an Alberta resident, was charged with first-degree murder the day after Davidson was killed in the line of duty.
The 53-year-old officer was the first on scene after police received reports of shots being fired at civilians at a strip mall on Mt. Lehman Road.
Davidson was struck by gunfire and was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after.
Arfmann was arrested not far from the scene following a brief police chase that ended in a crash and with more shots being fired. He was injured in the incident and was taken to hospital.