Accused admits to using illegal drugs night of attack on elderly woman along Ganatchio Trail
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Habibullah "Daniel" Ahmadi, 24, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Sara Anne Widholm, 76, who was attacked on Oct. 8, 2017.
In his ongoing trial in Chatham, the video of Ahmadi’s initial interview with Windsor police was played in court on Thursday.
In it, Ahmadi admitted to using magic mushrooms and smoking marijuana throughout the evening of Oct. 7 and into the early morning hours of Oct. 8.
Ahmadi says he got the magic mushrooms from Evan Hooper-Gelinas, a man he had just met that day.
He said he started to run from Hooper-Gelinas because he was afraid when he saw a woman on the path.
“I think, um, I was trying to help her and she scared me. It was really dark,” Ahmadi told police.
Det.-Const. Chris Shaw responded, “You expect me to believe a little old lady scared you?”
Ahmadi did not reply.
He told police he doesn’t remember striking the woman, saying he “blacked out” around that time. Shaw calls that “memory of convenience.”
In his interview, Ahmadi is soft-spoken, cries periodically and repeatedly asked about “the lady’s” injuries.
After the assault, Ahmadi told police he started running and fell into water.
Earlier court testimony heard his shorts and socks had sand in them and that he was soaking wet and shirtless when he was arrested.
Late Thursday, Hooper-Gelinas was on the stand. He testified he brought one ounce of magic mushrooms with him that night, which Ahmadi shared with him.
Over the course of the evening, Ahmadi, Hooper-Gelinas and two other friends were smoking marijuana at Ahmadi’s home.
When he and Ahmadi went for a walk around 5 a.m., Hooper-Gelinas testified “out of nowhere” Ahmadi grabbed him from behind in a “bear hug” and said, “Let’s fight.”
Hooper-Gelinas testified Ahmadi told him he and his friends would have sparing matches like MMA, but Hooper-Gelinas didn’t want to fight because he was recovering from a sprained ankle and wrist from a skate boarding accident.
Around 6 a.m., Hooper-Gelinas testified they “crossed paths with this old woman. I said, ‘Good morning.’ She said, ‘Hello.’” And they continued walking.
He testified Ahmadi said, “I’m going to help her with her bag” to which he replied “No man. Two dudes. Six-am. On a trail? You’re going to freak her out.”
Hooper-Gelinas told the court, the woman was “a ways up” from their location, and Ahmadi ran up to her.
Hooper-Gelinas told the court he tried to convince Ahmadi to leave the woman alone. He said “I could understand her worries.”
Hooper-Gelinas stayed further back, until he saw Ahmadi strike the woman. He described Ahmadi’s punches with his hands and elbows as “aggressive and quick.”
The woman fell to the ground, landing on her stomach.
Hooper-Gelinas says he ran up, and tried to stop Ahmadi who turned to him “with this look and he flailed me off.” He also tried to get Ahmadi’s cellphone out of his pocket but couldn’t.
Hooper-Gelinas says Ahmadi straddled her, and continued striking her in the face with his elbows and hands. Hooper-Gelinas says the woman looked at him and begged him, “Please help me? What’s your friend doing to me?” But “after a few blows” she was unresponsive, according to Hooper-Gelinas.
When Hooper-Gelinas realized “there’s no way I’m getting this guy off,” he told court he ran away for help because his cellphone was dead.
Hooper-Gelinas first found a woman whom he thought was gardening near the Little River pollution control plant but she too didn’t have a cellphone. He then ran further towards the subdivision, hoping to flag someone down.
Hooper-Gelinas eventually saw a police cruiser and got the officers’ attention.
On cross examination by defence lawyer Patricia Brown, Hooper-Gelinas admitted in 2017 he had a substance abuse problem with both legal and illegal drugs and that he brought the mushrooms to the Ahmadi home that night.
Hooper-Gelinas denied being a drug dealer.
Brown’s cross-examination of Hooper-Gelinas will continue Friday.