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Accused in Starbucks manslaughter case testifies

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Oldouz Pournouruz testifies about a tense encounter with a man before an assault inside a Burnaby Starbucks that claimed the life of the man.

Lawrence Alvin Sharpe and Oldouz Pournouruz outside court. They were charged with manslaughter after a confrontation in November 2017 at a Burnaby Starbucks that resulted in the death of Michael Page-Vincelli. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

A woman accused in the slaying of a man inside a Burnaby Starbucks says that before the homicide the victim confronted her and threw a burning cigarette at her.

Oldouz Pournouruz, 36, who has pleaded not guilty to the July 2017 manslaughter of Michael Page-Vincelli, 22, told a jury Thursday that she was confused and then afraid after the confrontation outside the coffee shop.

The Crown’s theory is that following an argument between Pournouruz and Page-Vincelli in front of a bank in the Kensington shopping mall, Pournouruz encouraged her boyfriend, Lawrence Sharpe, to assault Page-Vincelli inside the nearby Starbucks. Sharpe has also pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

The prosecution has told a jury that Sharpe delivered a single punch, causing Page-Vincelli to fall back, possibly striking his head on a counter. Page-Vincelli died later in hospital.

Pournouruz took the stand in her own defence and told the jury that she was parked outside the Royal Bank with Sharpe inside the bank when she noticed a man glaring at her. She said that she tried to ignore him and looked away several times and then noticed he was standing by her vehicle.

Pournouruz said she was “creeped out” by the man’s behaviour and uncomfortable. Then she noticed the man bending down so that his head was at the window level by her head.

Michael Anthony Page-Vincelli, 22, died July 15, 2017 after a confrontation at a Starbucks in Burnaby.

Handout/ / PNG

“He looked at me directly in the eye and he said, ‘That’s what you get for saying no.’ ”

Asked by her lawyer, Pamela Smith-Gander, what her reaction was, she said: “I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was confused. I was like, ‘What?’ Then he was rising and I looked down and saw that a cigarette was on my chest, on my shirt, and it was still lit and burning.

“I said, ‘What the hell?’ and I was in shock. And I picked up the cigarette and I threw it out the window and I got out of the car.”

Pournouruz said that she demanded to know why the man had thrown the cigarette at her.

“Then he said, ‘I don’t care c..t, dirty immigrant, go back to your country.’ ”

The accused said she told the man that her boyfriend was in the bank and was coming out and would learn what had happened. She said she went into the bank and told Sharpe about the cigarette-throwing incident and they left the bank and went to the Starbucks. She denied telling Sharpe, who she said just wanted to know who was involved and why, to do anything.

When she and Sharpe entered the Starbucks, she said she froze and the man who she had had the confrontation with came a few steps toward them and Sharpe went by her and punched the man.

“I was just frozen there and I saw the guy fall to the ground. I didn’t know what to do. I was just shocked.”

Under cross-examination, Pournouruz denied a suggestion by the Crown that she was angered by Page-Vincelli’s behaviour and had escalated the confrontation. She insisted that she was not a violent person.

Pournouruz is expected to continue with her cross-examination Friday.

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