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Victim at 'wrong place at the wrong time,' jury told at murder trial

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Trevor Harper was gunned down after a random crossing of paths with a group of young men behind a Portage Avenue mobile phone store, a Winnipeg jury heard today.

And now, the well-liked young man's accused killer is on trial for second-degree murder after being fingered by police as the member of a group of four males who ultimately fired the shots that killed him. He is presumed innocent.

The youth, now 17, was arrested four days after Harper was fatally shot just after 6 p.m. on April 29, 2011 as he sat inside a Honda Prelude parked in the rear of 557-559 Portage Ave.

In his opening address to the youth's eight-man, four-woman jury, Crown prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft said Harper had been selling marijuana that day and went to the phone store with his girlfriend and another man after being paid with an iPhone for a drug deal.

Once there, a group of six males who had been playing basketball at a community centre nearby were walking south down Young Street towards a Junior's restaurant when they spotted Harper and his friends in the vehicle.

"That is where two worlds fatally collided," Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft told the eight-man, four-woman jury. "The wrong place at the wrong time."

The teen is accused of pulling out a .22-calibre handgun, using it to tap on the window of the vehicle and ordering those inside to get out. When the driver reversed and then moved forward in an effort to escape, the youth fired two shots, Vanderhooft alleged. Both bullets hit Harper in the head, with one penetrating his brain.

"That shot killed him," said Vanderhooft.

The driver of the vehicle pulled onto Portage Avenue to call 911 and then rushed Harper to the Health Sciences Cetnre, where he was later pronounced dead, jurors were told.

Vanderhooft said jurors can expect to see video surveillance from the area, as well as hear from the vehicle's driver and Harper's girlfriend about the sudden confrontation. The Crown also expects to call members of the group who were with the teen at the time of the shooting.

Vanderhooft cautioned some of them may be "reluctant" to testify. "Some may be associated to each other and their association may motivate how they view what happened," he said.

"From our perspective, this case is very simple," Vanderhooft said. The youth had the gun and it was he that approached the car, Vanderhooft alleged. "Instead of leaving well enough alone, he didn't. He pulled the trigger," the prosecutor said.

His trial is set to last 28 days.


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