A homeless man who was allegedly swarmed by four people in downtown Nelson is the victim in an assault trial that began Wednesday.
That man can’t testify, however, because he later died in what a police officer told court was an unrelated event currently being investigated as a homicide.
Murray Poole, 59, was allegedly assaulted by one man, Justus Taylor Bisch, and three other males shortly after midnight outside Wait’s News’ former location at Ward and Baker Streets on March 16.
Bisch faces one count of assault causing bodily harm. The Star cannot name the other alleged assailants because they were under 18 at the time of the incident.
Two witnesses — an employee of Wait’s News and a customer — both testified they intervened when they saw Poole being kicked and punched by the four assailants while he was lying on Ward Street.
It’s not clear who or what instigated the event. Both witnesses said the group alleged Poole spit or blew snot on them, while another complained Poole may have stolen his wallet.
Nelson Police Department Const. Mike McKerracher was the first officer to arrive on the scene. He told the court he was first approached by Bisch, who said he had been assaulted. McKerracher testified Bisch did not appear to have injuries, but had alcohol on his breath.
McKerracher also said Poole was bleeding heavily with a laceration on his scalp, a nose that appeared to be broken, and was agitated, which the officer noted is consistent with a head injury. Poole, he said, also appeared intoxicated.
McKerracher told the court that Poole is the subject of an active homicide investigation, although he did not divulge any more details or say when Poole died.
Poole gave two statements to police, the first at the time of the alleged assault and another on March 28. Judge Phillip Seagram ruled the statements were inconsistent, unreliable, could not be scrutinized by cross examination and were therefore inadmissible.
Bisch, meanwhile, has not testified.
The trial, which ran through Thursday, will resume in December.