Man accused of murdering Winnipeg taxi driver had a dispute with another driver, court hears

A man accused of fatally stabbing a Winnipeg taxi driver had a heated exchange with a different driver minutes earlier, a judge heard on Thursday.

The evidence was presented on day two of the second-degree murder trial for Okoth Obeing in the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench, which is being heard by Justice Joan McKelvey.

The Crown has argued the 22-year-old is criminally responsible for killing 44-year-old Duffy’s Taxi driver Balvir Toor despite suffering from the effects of bipolar disorder.

Parwez Paul, 60, told the court he was driving for Unicity Taxi in the early hours of March 19, 2020, when he asked a man he picked up on Magnus Avenue to prepay for his ride.

“I asked for the money upfront and then he gave me $20,” Paul testified.

He testified once they started driving the man’s behaviour changed.

Video played in court from Paul’s taxi captured the man swearing after Paul starts driving and Paul swearing back at the passenger. Paul testified he gave back the money and the man got out of the car on Burrows Avenue.

“I was not feeling safe because of his behaviour…aggressive behaviour.” Paul testified. “I was scared.”

Paul acknowledged during cross-examination by Obeing’s lawyer Alex Steigerwald that he was talking tough back to the passenger.

Around 30 minutes later, Toor was fatally stabbed in his cab on Burrows Ave.

The Crown has alleged Obeing, still inflamed from his previous interaction with Paul, is responsible for murder. The Crown argued he had a dislike for taxi drivers due in part to prepayment requests and felt animosity towards South Asian people.

Obeing has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Court has heard he was off his medication for bipolar disorder in the days leading up to Toor’s death.

An officer who was working in the Winnipeg Police Service’s central processing unit on Mar. 20, 2020, where Obeing was being held in custody also testified on Thursday.

Const. Marnie Johannesson told the court there was nothing notable about his behaviour when she started her shift but she testified Obeing’s behaviour changed at some point in the afternoon.

“He began to hit the cell door very loudly,” Johannesson testified. “He just seemed very angry and worked up.”

Johannesson told the judge Obeing was restrained and transported by officers including herself to the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

“He said to one of the officers who were there, ‘You are next,’” Johannesson testified.

She told the court Obeing then made a comment to a guard.

Johannesson testified she heard him say, “You are the same colour as the guy I killed.”

Johanesson testified Obeing then made racial slurs while at the remand centre in a normal conversational tone.

Obeing is presumed innocent.

The trial continues. 

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