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Sandra Bracken was the last person to hear Ricardo Hibi's voice before he died.
Jurors on Monday heard the criminal defence lawyer was on the phone with the group home manager as he was being stabbed to death.
Kane Ashley Antonio Moar, 22, is on trial for second-degree murder in the Dec. 17, 2018 killing.
Bracken, at the time a legal aid lawyer who worked exclusively with youth, testified Monday she had been on the phone talking with Hibi about one of her clients for two to three minutes "when suddenly he wasn’t talking to me anymore, he was talking to somebody else."
Bracken said she heard Hibi say, "Hey man, this isn’t your house, get out of this house," followed by four or five "very loud bangs" and a different voice saying "Oh, f---."
Bracken said she heard no more talking after that, only a "wet, jagged sound, as if somebody was trying to breath.
"It was clear to me Ricardo was hurt," Bracken said. "I asked ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’"
Bracken stayed on the line with Hibi and called 911, telling an operator she thought Hibi had been shot.
After ending the call with 911, Bracken continued trying to speak to Hibi.
"He didn’t answer," she said. "I just heard him struggle and struggle to breathe."
In an opening address, Crown attorney Nick Reeves told jurors Hibi, 34, was stabbed three times in the arm, hip and chest, just 20 seconds after answering the door to his McGee Street group home.
Winnipeg Police Service constables Justin Wieringa and Nicholas Willsie arrived on scene minutes later and found fresh blood on the front door handle and the door blocked shut.
After forcing the door open, they found "a male lying on the ground, his eyes wide open, in a large pool of blood," Wieringa told court.
After calling for backup, Wieringa and another officer searched the house, finding no one there, while Willsie performed CPR on Hibi until paramedics arrived.
Hibi was taken to Health Sciences Centre where he was pronounced dead.
A now 18-year-old man, who was living at the group home at the time of the slaying, testified he was at his then girlfriend’s Toronto Street home later that day when he heard Moar, his girlfriend’s brother, at the front door laughing and saying he had "stabbed up an Asian guy."
But on cross examination, the man provided inconsistent testimony about seeing Kane with a bloody knife. He admitted he made no mention of a knife to police, but in a text told a cousin who also lived at the group home that he had seen Kane with one. In that same text, the man told his cousin he believed it had been Hibi who had been stabbed and told his cousin to delete the text.
Moar’s trial was one of two murder trials to begin before a jury in Winnipeg Monday, the first in Manitoba since the COVID-19 pandemic induced a shutdown of all jury trial proceedings last March.
Only four jurors sat in the jury box, with the remaining eight seated in the body of the courtroom, to satisfy social distancing requirements.
In between witnesses, a court clerk sprayed sanitizer on the witness box and a Bible used to swear-in witnesses.
While giving jurors their opening instructions, Justice Vic Toews made just one reference to the pandemic when he recommended they choose a foreperson "sooner, rather than later."
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
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