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Murder trial witness frustrated by lack of support

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A local witness in a murder trial says she regrets trying to be a Good Samaritan. Louise Nielson was injured in the aftermath of a man being stabbed to death in Kamloops, and believes she hasn’t been given the proper support from B.C.’s Crime Victim Assistance Program.

Nielson was camping with her family at an RV Park on February 11, 2017 when 58-year-old Stephen George Fraser stabbed 26-year-old Cody Foster to death. She and her son helped detain Fraser, who was recently convicted of second-degree murder. However, she was recovering from a hip replacement at the time, and further injured herself.

“I’m bent down and the back of my heel pushed up against my bottom, and when it did I felt an instant searing, hot pain. I knew instantly I’ve just done something really bad to my leg.”

Since then, Nielson has undergone two surgeries, most recently on December 13th. She, her husband, and her son report suffer from PTSD from the incident, which has particularly impacted her husband who came up the murder scene in another trailer.

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“There’s been no escaping it,” Nielson says. “You start to think enough time has passed, now I can get over it, then the pre-trial comes up so now here you are a year later and you’re re-living all of this stuff again.”

“For us, there’s been no escape.”

Making matters worse for the family, Nielson says, is that they have been denied help from B.C.’s Crime Victim Assistance Program. The family were key witnesses in the trial, and Nielson says, due to publication bans, they couldn’t speak out until the verdict.

“We were the ones that detained that guy and secured the crime scene, so who knows if there would have ever been enough evidence for them to try him,” she argues. “They recognized that, but they said because the victim was already deceased when we got on scene they were declining us as victims.”

The Nielsons were also considered as Good Samaritans, which is defined as someone who is injured or killed while trying to preserve the peace by arresting a suspect or preventing a crime. It must also be shown that they had reasonable grounds to believe a crime had been committed.

In a letter, the program argues that since it was Nielson’s son who was holding the suspect down while she tried to calm the situation, that she did not have to use force.

“Her actions did not put her at risk of harm as opposed to her son who physically detained the suspect and thus could have been physically harmed as a result.”

Her husband’s application was also denied for similar reasons.

Thousands of dollars have since been spent on prescriptions, physiotherapy, counselling, and other medical costs. Nielson hopes that by bringing attention to her case, the province reconsiders its decision. Other than that, she wants to prevent someone else from finding themselves in the same position.

“If at least there’s enough awareness that they don’t make the same mistake or the same judgement for somebody else that might be in a situation similar to what we got put in that night, then it will still be worth it.”

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