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Friend testifies Kachkar looked ‘pale and skinny’ before murder

Peter Pessoa, a witness at Richard Kachkar's murder trial, talks to reporters outside a Toronto courthouse on Feb. 27, 2013. CITYNEWS

The defence lawyer for a man accused of killing a Toronto police officer brought forward another witness on Wednesday he believes establishes his client’s mental instability.

Bob Richardson says Richard Kachkar, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, is not criminally responsible for Sgt. Ryan Russell’s death.

Kachkar, 46, struck and killed Russell, 35, with a stolen snowplow on Jan. 12, 2011.

Peter Pessoa, a “very close friend” of the accused, said he knew him since the late ‘90s and helped him move to St. Catharines and get a job at Krispy Kreme.

He said when Kachkar’s father died, Kachkar inherited $100,000 for himself and $10,000 each for his children. He bought houses in Buffalo and one in St. Catharines.

Pessoa said the weekend before the murder a mutual friend, Steve Brown, who testified at the trial on Tuesday, asked him to drop by and see Kachkar. Brown thought Kachkar was “acting strange” and didn’t look well.

Pessoa said Kachkar had a beard, which was unusual for him, and he looked pale and skinny.

“Shh. There’s cameras all around. Cameras all over the place,” Kachkar allegedly told Pessoa.

Richardson also read an agreed statement of facts about Kachkar’s biological father — referred to only as DM — to the jury.

DM put Kachkar up for adoption on June 22, 1966, when he was 20 and a student, and had no further contact with his son.

According to DM’s siblings, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after he was found bouncing a basketball in the middle of a busy street. He borrowed money and left home and hasn’t seen his family since.

As part of their investigation into Kachkar, police tracked down DM, who was living in a rooming house. He called himself a hermit but denied having any mental problems and said he was forced to take medications while in hospital. He said there were sources preventing him from discussing his life.

Workers at the hospital said he may have mental health issues and seemed remote and confused during an assessment.

Judge Ian MacDonnell has told the jury there’s no question Kachkar was the person driving the snowplow and that the case centres around his mental state. The Crown alleges Kachkar meant to kill Russell.

— With files from The Canadian Press