A man who was viciously beaten in a North Vancouver home doesn’t really know who attacked him, and could have been assaulted by a mysterious man said to resemble “John Travolta” or “Elvis,” two defence lawyers told a judge this week.
Lawyers David Forsyth and Alex Wolf told provincial court Judge Steven Merrick there isn’t enough proof to link their clients Robin Landrew Pryce, 42, and Paul Joseph Defaveri, 50, to the violent attack.
Pryce, of Surrey, and Defaveri, of Squamish, are on trial for the assault and attempted murder of Ronald Perry, 68, in a Phillip Avenue home on Sept. 2, 2009.
Perry, who testified in the trial, lost an eye in the attack in which one of his assailants gouged his eyes with their fingers.
Pryce and Defaveri have both pleaded not guilty in the case.
The Crown’s theory is that Pryce and Defaveri attacked Perry after he threatened to alert police to a grow op in the basement of the home, along with several other grow ops around the Lower Mainland run by the same organized crime group.
Both Pryce and Defaveri were living in the house when the attack took place, and Perry was talking to Defaveri in the living room just before he was hit from behind, prosecutors said. Pryce’s DNA was later found on a zap strap and piece of electrical tape used to bind Perry, while Defaveri’s fingerprint was found in Perry’s blood inside the house.
But that isn’t enough to prove the men are responsible for the beating, their lawyers said.
Forsyth said Perry never saw Pryce in the house and there’s no evidence he was even home when the attack took place.
He said it’s possible Pryce’s DNA got on the zap strap and tape when he touched them long before someone else used those items to tie up Perry. Forsyth added a DNA expert had also conceded it was “possible” —although unlikely — the DNA could have been transferred from one item to another.
Forsyth pointed out Perry described seeing a reflection in the TV of someone with puffy hair and sideburns resembling “John Travolta” or “Elvis” approaching from behind in the moments before he was hit.
Both Pryce and Defaveri have shaved heads, he said.
DNA from another unidentified person was also found on the handle of the hammer believed to be the weapon used to hit Perry, said Forsyth.
Another man Defaveri knew with slicked-back hair who much more closely fit Perry’s description was originally considered a “person of interest” in the case, but was never properly investigated by police, said Forsyth.
Wolf said there is no DNA linking Defaveri to the attack. In fact, Perry testified Defaveri was sitting across from him when Perry was hit from behind, said Wolf. He said while Perry testified he heard Defaveri’s voice, he also admitted to blacking out during the attack and that everything was a bit of a blur. Perry also didn’t identify Defaveri in a photo line-up, he said.
Wolf said Defaveri’s bloody fingerprint could have been put on the door of the house when he was attempting to clean up the blood. That doesn’t mean he took part in the attack, said Wolf.
Both Wolf and Forsyth said Perry lacks credibility as a witness, pointing to his criminal record, his use of cocaine before the attack and his decision to initially lie to police about where the assault took place.
They also pointed out Perry has had a stroke and has problems with his memory. He also suffered significant head injuries in the attack, said Wolf.
Merrick has reserved his verdict to a later date.