A homeless man who was murdered in central Auckland last year
was "going to the toilet" where his alleged murderer and his
friends wanted to sleep, a court has been told.
Edwin Linder, 42, died in hospital three days after the early
morning assault in Mills Lane.
Steven Churchis, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, is
standing trial in the High Court at Auckland charged with
murdering Mr Linder on July 31, 2013.
He was today described as "stomping" on Mr Linder's head over
an argument about a sleeping spot and a stolen bag.
The accused and his two friends -- who were also homeless --
came across Mr Linder shortly before 12.30am as they
approached a spot at the bottom of Mills Lane where they had
been sleeping for a few weeks prior to the attack, the court
was told today.
While Churchis -- who was known as 'DJ' to his friends -- and
a young woman went to a nearby fast food restaurant to use
the bathroom, his two friends stayed behind. As they walked
down the lane they saw Mr Linder crouching at the bottom of
the lane, close to where one of them had left his blanket
from the previous night.
"We were shocked to see somebody else there, and we asked him
what he was doing," the friend told the court this morning,
speaking with a screen blocking his view of Churchis.
"He was going to the toilet there."
The two friends tried to persuade Mr Linder to go to Burger
King to use the bathrooms, but because he was "half-way
through" he didn't want to move.
When Churchis returned, he recognised Mr Linder, and accused
him of stealing his backpack on a previous occasion. A row
erupted between the two of them and "then anger started
As Mr Linder tried to leave, Churchis kicked him in the
chest, sending him crashing to the ground, the witness said.
"He was lying on the ground and he kicked him in the head and
stood on his face.
"When he was on the ground he [Churchis] was stomping him on
"It happened quite a few times, enough to knock the guy out,
The two friends got up and started to walk away, he said,
they turned around and told Churchis "that's enough bro", and
he stopped and walked away with them.
They didn't ring an ambulance or police because they didn't
realise how seriously injured he was.
"I've seen plenty of people get beat up, I thought he would
be fine. Turns out he wasn't."
The trial continues.
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ