A police officer examines a murder scene at Harbour View Manor in September 2017. Richard Sitar was found dead within an apartment at that site and John Albert Buchanan was subsequently charged with second-degree murder in relation. (News Bulletin file)

A police officer examines a murder scene at Harbour View Manor in September 2017. Richard Sitar was found dead within an apartment at that site and John Albert Buchanan was subsequently charged with second-degree murder in relation. (News Bulletin file)

Accused in 2017 bludgeoning death in south Nanaimo awaits fate

Final submissions complete in B.C. Supreme Court trial of John Albert Buchanan

The accused in the 2017 bludgeoning death of a Nanaimo man in the city’s south end is set to learn his fate as final submissions have been entered in the murder trial.

John Albert Buchanan faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of Richard Sitar, who was found in his Harbour View Manor apartment on Nicol Street the evening of Sept. 11, 2017. He died of blunt-force trauma to the head. The trial began Oct. 19 at B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo, and closing arguments concluded today, Nov. 19.

In summarizing the prosecution’s case, Catherine Hagen, Crown counsel, said that it relied on direct and circumstantial evidence, including a green T-shirt seized from Buchanan that had a “DNA blood-pattern stain” that matched Sitar’s. There was also closed-circuit camera footage of Buchanan entering Sitar’s apartment at the time before and after the murder was said to have taken place.

The Crown alleges a bat was used to commit the crime, which has never been recovered.

Sitar and Buchanan knew one another. While Buchanan had made statements to police that they were friends, there is evidence of ill-will, according to the prosecution. On the day of the murder, they were arguing about stolen property and the victim’s use of drugs that Buchanan had paid for, Hagen said.

In June 2017 Sitar was said to have bear-sprayed Buchanan at the McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. Sitar is also said to have threatened to harm Buchanan’s partner.

While a toxicology report revealed methamphetamine, fentanyl and methadone in his system, Sitar suffered scalp lacerations, with underlying skull fractures and one brain contusional bruise on the left frontal lobe, Hagen said. Because of the severity of the head trauma, an examiner indicated that likely “death occurred very soon following the blunt force trauma to the head,” based on microscopic examination of tissue.

Buchanan told a person, who can’t be identified due to a publication ban, about the murder, and that person subsequently came forward to authorities, said Hagen. The evidence provided is detailed, corroborated by other evidence, credible and reliable. The witness could only have learned the information from the accused, Hagen said.

Michael Munro, Buchanan’s legal representation, questioned that.

Buchanan had given numerous versions of what occurred the night of the murder, including that the people that murdered Buchanan had gained access to the apartment with a ladder. While video evidence showed Buchanan entering the apartment before Sitar was found, Munro questioned if the balcony door was locked, and wondered if the perpetrators could’ve gained access that way. Hagen said there was no evidence to suggest this.

Surveillance footage shows Buchanan inside of the apartment before or after “when this beating was issued,” but there is doubt whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Buchanan was the perpetrator. The green T-shirt tested positive for Sitar’s DNA, but Munro said there is doubt as there was an “absence of blood splatter” on his client, his clothing or his belongings. In addition, there was no evidence in the apartment that any sort of clean-up activity had taken place.

A date for Judge Robin Baird’s decision is scheduled to be set Monday, Nov. 23.

RELATED: Accused in south Nanaimo beating death told police he didn’t hurt victim

RELATED: Trial begins in case of man who was beaten, died in south Nanaimo

RELATED: Second-degree murder charge laid in south Nanaimo death

RELATED: RCMP investigate death at south Nanaimo apartment



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

murder trialSupreme Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Rick Morgan, Nanaimo Search and Rescue building director, and Carly Trobridge, president and search manager, turn sod to kick off the start of renovations to NSAR’s headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 26. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Search and Rescue getting started on $2.6-million makeover at Harewood headquarters

Renovation project will increase space for vehicles and improve training and management operations

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Downed hydro line sparks brush fire in Yellow Point

North Oyster firefighters and B.C. Hydro on scene along Yellow Point Road

A concrete seawall built to prevent erosion on a property on Driftwood Drive on Mudge Island. (Islands Trust image)
Appeal Court says Mudge Island homeowners’ seawall has to go

Court decides right to guard against erosion isn’t a ‘privileged’ property right

McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
McDonald’s in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 case

Employee at Nicol Street location last worked Jan. 17

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read