A B.C. Supreme Court trial has begun for an Alberta man accused of severely beating a blind man who is a well-known personality in McBride.
Michael Richter, 33, of Ponoka, faces five charges in relation to the alleged Dec. 11, 2011 incident from which a McBride RCMP officer testified that Bill "Blind Bill" Groeneveld, 56, was found so badly injured he was unrecognizalbe at first
In his opening argument, Crown prosecutor Geoffrey McDonald said it's expected Groeneveld, who will testify Tuesday, will tell the court he had left the McBride Hotel after an evening of drinking and got lost in the snow, returned to the bar and asked a person he did not know for a ride.
Shortly after he was given the ride, the vehicle became stuck in the snow and Groeneveld sugggested the driver to get out to avoid getting charged with drunk driving. Groeneveld took the driver's arm and they walked down First Avenue but the driver would "freak out" and he gave him a hug to calm him down on two occasions.
It's also expected Groeneveld will tell the court he's a homosexual and when he felt either a fist or an erection in the person's pocket, thought it was a come on, pulled up close to him, reached down to his buttocks and crotch area.
"And that is when he was struck twice in the head and the person grabbed hold of his cane," McDonald said. "I expect he will give evidence that he thought 'this person is going to kill me and he's not getting my cane' and I expected that is the last he will say that he can remember."
Groeneveld woke up in hospital in Prince George with severe facial injuries.
Police were called to the scene at about 5 a.m. after a barking dog had alerted a neighbour to a man lying in a ditch over an embankment alongside First Avenue.
It's also expected the court will hear police found Richter asleep in his sport utility vehicle nearby but when he was awoken to be arrested, he managed to make a run for it only to loop back to the vehicle, hop in, start it and spin the tires in the snow.
Richter then got back out and was eventually apprehended when a volunteer firefighter who was giving chase tripped the suspect, who continued to put up a struggle, according to McDonald.
Richter had been in McBride for a weekend of snowmobiling when the was arrested, police said at the time of the alleged incident.
During testimony Monday, McBride RCMP Cst. Peter Berndsen said Groeneveld was a common sight in the community of 600 people as he made his way around the town with the help of a white cane. But when Berndsen said Groeneveld was so badly beaten that "it took some time" to recognized the victim when he was called to the scene.
The trial before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven is expected to last a week.