03/28/2015 04:00 EDT | Updated 05/28/2015 05:59 EDT

John Koopmans Tells B.C. Supreme Court Dog Sneezed Blood Of Victim On His Pants

"That’s the only reason Keith’s blood would be all over my clothes."

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PENTICTON, B.C. - A dog’s sneeze splattered the blood of a murder victim onto the pants of an accused killer, a jury has heard in Penticton, B.C.

John Koopmans, 52, is charged with the first-degree murders of Robert Wharton, 43, and his girlfriend, Rosemary Fox, 32, as well as the attempted murder of Bradley Martin, 50.

Koopmans spent Friday testifying in B.C. Supreme Court about where he was March 30, 2013, when three people were shot in a semi-rural home near Princeton.

Ten days before the shootings, he was salvaging lumber with Wharton, when Wharton got a large wood sliver in one of his hands that drew blood, said Koopmans.

"(Wharton) was dripping blood onto the load of wood that was in front of us and ... his little small dog was jumping around in the blood and licking it up, and he was trying to tell the dog to beat it, and then it sneezed on us," said Koopmans.

"That’s the only reason Keith’s blood would be all over my clothes."

Police seized those jeans when Koopmans was arrested, and an expert has testified that the DNA in the blood spatter matched Wharton.

Asked to explain his whereabouts the night of the murders, Koopmans said he left his girlfriend’s house after a drunken argument and walked over to Wharton’s home, where he often spent time after such fights.

He said when he walked by the property around 9 p.m. — about 30 minutes before the shootings — he noticed the home was dark, so he walked to another friend’s house.

That friend was out, too, Koopmans said, so he returned to Wharton’s property, which "was full of RCMP cars."

Koopmans said he assumed a drug bust was underway, so he walked to a camper at the back of the property and went to sleep, waking up around noon to find a police officer with a gun trained on him.

Several police officers have testified the camper was empty when it was searched around 1 a.m. March 31.

Koopmans couldn't say what time he laid down inside.

Mounties have testified they found a holster and .357 ammunition — the same type used in the murders — in a chair at the home of Koopmans’ girlfriend.

Under cross-examination, he said the holster was his, but noted it accompanied a pellet gun he bought, and the ammunition was for a .357 Magnum he destroyed years earlier because it was illegal.

Koopmans said the chair was among some belongings he and others moved to his girlfriend’s house, and he suspects those who helped move it may have placed the holster on it.

He said he hadn’t seen the ammunition for years and the people who were shooting his handgun hid it in the chair.

Two guns police linked to the shootings were later recovered in the Similkameen River.

The cross-examination is expected to resume Monday. The trial is expected to last until mid-April.

The Crown’s theory is Koopmans killed Wharton because he believed Wharton was involved in a break-in at his home, while the defence has suggested the shootings were carried out by someone from the drug world.

(Penticton Herald)

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