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From birthday celebration to deadly fight: Witnesses recount man’s final hours

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One moment Dereck Szaflarski was walking up Richmond Street with two friends after celebrating his 27th birthday.

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Within minutes, the London personal fitness trainer was lying on his back on a sidewalk, dying from a stab wound after the briefest of fights with a driver who was upset at the trio for crossing the street.

Two women who saw it all happen testified Tuesday at the Superior Court jury trial of Robert Ashley Williams, 39, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Szaflarski. Krystle Pereira and Shawna Oag were walking back to Pereira’s car with Szaflarski on May 26, 2018, at bar closing time when those few moments turned deadly.

Both women were shaken by what happened. Pereira, 32, who had met Szaflarski only hours earlier, had a more detailed recollection of the stabbing. She told the jury she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after Szaflarski’s death.

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Oag, 28, who counted himself as Szaflarski’s friend, was quiet and shut down during questioning by assistant Crown attorney James Spangenberg. She had trouble remembering basic events. About 10 minutes into her time in the witness box, she lost some of her composure.

What was clear from their testimonies was there was no sign in the hours they spent with Szaflarski before he was stabbed that there would be an eruption of violence.

Pereira testified she and Oag went out at about 10 pm on May 25 to Molly Bloom’s, the popular pub on Richmond Row. While sitting at a table, Pereira said she saw Szaflarski and told Oag “someone who was really hot” had walked into the bar.

Oag told Pereira she knew him. Szaflarski came over and told the women he had been out celebrating his birthday since about 2 pm at a bar and a house party. He had left the party for the pub and none of his friends followed him there.

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Pereira said Szaflarski “seemed like he had a good buzz on.”

Szaflarski stayed with the women and bought their food and drinks, Pereira said. The three walked south to Wink’s, another bar, where they stayed until closing time.

Pereira said they planned for her to drop Oag and Szaflarski off at Oag’s home. The trio walked up the west sidewalk of Richmond. A surveillance video from Molly Bloom’s and another business captured the scene, with Pereira walking ahead and Oag and Szaflarski together, each with an arm around the other.

Pereira’s car was parked on Piccadilly Street. The three decided they would cross busy Richmond Street at that intersection instead of walking north to the traffic lights at Oxford Street.

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“I thought I had enough time to cross the street,” said Pereira, who was the first to step onto the road, but a car sped toward her. She tested that as she passed by a white car, Williams yelled out his open window something “derogatory” at her.

“I think Dereck said something along the lines of‘ just keep driving, ’” she said.

Williams stopped the car and got out onto the west sidewalk. Pereira was already on the east sidewalk, while Oag and Szaflarski were still on the street. Williams was in a “stance” and flinched like he wanted to fight. Pereira said she could see something in Williams’ left hand.

Oag tried to pull Szaflarski toward the east sidewalk, Pereira said during cross-examination by defense lawyer Chris Uwagboe. Szaflarski turned and charged into Williams, crashing into a storefront vestibule.

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“It all just happened so fast,” she said.

The videos showed Williams wearing a black shirt before the fight, then shirtless with his shirt in his hand after the fight. Pereira told Uwagboe she didn’t see how Williams’ shirt came off and only heard “muffled sounds.”

Szaflarski walked back across Richmond toward the women, adjusted his shirt and then collapsed. Blood was spurting out of him, Pereira said. She called 911 while Oag tried to put pressure on Szaflarski’s wound.

Szaflarski was rushed to hospital by ambulance. An hour later, the women were told he had died.

Oag tested that nothing unusual happened while the three of them were together at the bars. She remembered “feeling scared” when the fight was about start.

She told the jury she saw a weapon “vaguely.”

“It happened really fast. Before I knew it it was already over, ”she said.

Oag remembered Szaflarski walking across the street after the brief fight. There was blood on the ground and he was walking kind of slow.

“He collapsed and I tried to help him. . . . There was nothing I could do. ”

Oag is expected to be cross-examined on Wednesday.

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