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Victim of violent attack tells Chilliwack Court her story

Chilliwack Law Courts - File
Chilliwack Law Courts
— image credit: File

The day Deborah Halladay came home from work to evict her young roommate, she was worried things might end badly.

“I had a feeling that something was going to happen,” she told a Chilliwack Court last Thursday on the first day of a four-day attempted murder trial for Matthew Alderman.

The 25-year-old Alderman is on trial for aggravated assault and attempted murder after a Jan. 14, 2013 incident at Halladay’s downtown Chilliwack apartment.

When the 49-year-old hairdresser got home from work that day, she steeled her resolve with four shots of Fireball—a popular whiskey-based liqueur—as she waited for Alderman to return home from his job.

“I was scared to come home but I knew it had to be done,” she said.

Between Alderman’s behaviour, which Halladay found increasingly “odd,” and the things she found out about the young man’s past, she realized allowing him to live with her was a mistake.

There was the fact that Alderman had apparently stabbed his brother at some point in the past.

“He acted like it was no big deal,” she told the court.

Then there was when Alderman told Halladay about his history of hurting small animals.

“He was strange,” she said. “The more I talked to him, the more bad vibes I got.”

Then there was the incident with the dishes. Two days before the alleged assault, on a Saturday, Halladay had done a big cleaning job and Alderman had left his dirty dishes out. She was annoyed, but she cleaned them anyway and did the same again Sunday morning.

On Sunday night, she had enough and asked him to come out of his room and do his dishes.

“He came out angrily and told me that I was not his mother,” she told the court. “He was shaking.”

At work the next day she asked her co-workers what they thought she should do about Alderman. The advice she got was to give him until the end of the month to get out of the apartment.

She decided that was the best plan knowing that if things went badly she would have to tell him to get out that very night, Jan. 14.

When Alderman returned to the apartment after his shift at Stream, Halladay told him he had to be out by the end of the month.

He didn’t take it well, backing her into a corner in the apartment as she grabbed her phone and considered calling 9-1-1.

He told her to put the phone down repeatedly, and that’s when things got violent, she testified.

“He put his hands around my neck and he was snapping it back and forth,” she told the court. “He had me lifted up off the ground and he said, ‘Why won’t your neck break? I want to kill you, why won’t your neck break? I just want to snap your neck.’”

The next thing she said she remembers was waking up on the floor unable to move from the neck down.

Halladay asked Alderman to call 9-1-1 while he was pacing near her. She called out for help and someone outside the apartment did call police.

Then, she said, Alderman went for the silverware drawer.

“I thought, ‘He’s going to finish me off before the police get here.’”

But she was wrong. Alderman then, she said, started stabbing himself.

“I asked him to come and hold my hand,” she said. “He said, ‘Why do you want me to hold your hand? I’m a monster.’”

Throughout Halladay’s testimony in court last week, Alderman, a pale, stout, doughy man with thick, shaggy brown hair, stared emotionless straight ahead in the prisoner’s box.

Alderman had originally pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in the case, but when in court last August for sentencing, the judge struck his plea from the record after he suggested his actions might have been involuntary.

Judge Russell McKay then ordered the current trial on aggravated assault and attempted murder charges.

His lawyer at that time, David Silverman who was already his second, withdrew as council.

His current lawyer, Andrew Bonfield, focused his cross-examination last week of Halladay on her statement and its similarity to her statement to police.

The Crown’s case is based mostly on the testimony of Halladay, her daughter Denica, and three police officers.

Bonfield also took issue with how Alderman was charged with aggravated assault, a charge that was later lifted to attempted murder.

He pushed the RCMP officer who took Alderman’s statement, suggesting that he should have been “rechartered” given the possible change in jeopardy when the charge was raised.

Based on his questioning of police, Bonfield will likely ask to have Alderman’s statement excluded from testimony.

The trial continued June 26.

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