The testimony painted a scene like something out of a horror film: a high school student eating lunch with her boyfriend as they watched a movie in his dimly-lit basement suite.
“I heard the dog growl and there was somebody standing behind the couch,” Janelle Guyatt, now 18, said. “He was holding a knife in his hand, above his shoulder. I felt a bad pain at the bottom of my neck.
“Then this shirtless man jumped over the couch and started attacking both of us. Derek was trying to get me out of the way, saying ‘don’t hurt her’ and he attacked Derek.”
‘Derek’ is Derek Descoteau, a 20-year-old man from Chemainus, who was stabbed to death in his home 30 months ago. The second-degree murder trial of the man accused of killing him got underway Monday in Duncan.
Colin John is also facing a count of attempted murder in connection with the attack on Guyatt following a bloody incident in May of 2016 at a residence in the peaceful Vancouver Island community.
Descoteau and Guyatt were both stabbed several times. Descoteau died en route to hospital. Guyatt suffered five knife wounds and spent two weeks in hospital. She is still undergoing treatment for a serious injury that has limited the use of one arm.
On Monday, Guyatt was the first witness called by Crown counsel Ken Paziuk.
She said she and Descoteau were having lunch and watching a movie shortly after noon when a stranger suddenly appeared and started his attack. She struggled to recall certain specifics, but says Descoteau and the shirtless man wound up on the floor as she made her escape, running outside and screaming for help.
“I’d lost a lot of blood and my arm was useless. I tripped going up the stairs and stumbled and ran to the road. I was yelling for help the whole time.
“There was a lady getting groceries out of the back of her car, she didn’t move. I was soaked in blood from the neck down,” she explained in a soft voice in the Duncan courtroom that contained about 20 members of her family and Descoteau’s family.
“A couple minutes later someone else came down from Caswell (Road) and another lady came and she was on the phone. I remember hearing Derek yelling for help.”
She told the court how Descoteau emerged from the house, covered in blood, holding his arm.
“Help, I’m gonna die,” she heard him say.
Moments later, the shirtless man she says attacked them in the basement came out of the house and made his way to where Descoteau was being attended to in the front yard.
Under cross examination from John’s lawyer, Scott Sheets, Guyatt said the man knelt down next to Descoteau, covered in blood, but not aggressive.
Asked by Paziuk if she could identify her attacker, Guyatt turned in the witness box and pointed directly at John who was seated in the prisoner’s box.
Throughout the day, John sat motionless in the box, his head bowed. Before Guyatt took the stand, Sheets and Paziuk informed Justice Lisa Warren that John had requested that he be tried by judge alone, rather than by judge and jury.
Warren agreed to the change and John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.
John appeared heavier than he had been at the time of his arrest in May of 2016. He arrived in court wearing leg irons and a red Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre jumpsuit.
The Supreme Court trial continues Tuesday and is expected to last three weeks. The Crown expects to call more than a dozen witnesses.