PHUM email@example.com_county.london.london_free_press 2005-04-01 published
Night of horror
Friends were unable to prevent the fight between buddies that left one of them dead on the street in a pool of blood with his girlfriend weeping over his body.
By Jennifer O'BRIEN, Free Press Reporter
A 20-year-old London father is dead, one of his best Friends is accused of killing him and his heartbroken girlfriend and Friends are left wondering why it happened. James BLAIR, the guy "who always had a smile," died Wednesday night after he was stabbed in the stomach in front of a northwest London apartment building.
Eighteen-year-old Mwangi GETHIGA -- known as Kuggy to his Friends was charged yesterday with second-degree murder.
BLAIR and GETHIGA had a fist fight in the apartment at 75 Oakville Ave. that is across the hall from where BLAIR's girlfriend, Sonyda KHOUN, lives with their son, Latteral, Friends said yesterday.
"He was the nicest kid, man. He always had a smile on his face," said Sok PHUM, 26, one of many Friends who gathered outside the building yesterday.
"He always brought you up. That's the way he was."
Still stunned by what they'd seen the night before, Friends were struggling to make sense of what had happened to "one of the coolest kids around."
"We were all sitting around the apartment like always," said Jon COLEBY, 19, one of three roommates who live in the apartment where the fight broke out. "We are all really good Friends. They (BLAIR and GETHIGA) hung out every day."
As he spoke, COLEBY occasionally put a hand up to the bridge of his nose, where a purple bruise reminded him of the fight he'd tried desperately to stop the night before.
A crowd of Friends, including BLAIR, GETHIGA and COLEBY, were drinking beer and planning to take out turntables later to do some freestyle rapping, COLEBY said.
BLAIR was a gifted freestyler, he said. "And when he got drunk, he loved to freestyle."
But that night the skinny, fun-loving dad with the dreadlocks never got the chance.
BLAIR became drunk and obnoxious, said Jessica ROBERTS, 18, who lives with COLEBY and another roommate in the apartment.
"He just started being rowdy and annoying," she said.
Some of the Friends told BLAIR to leave, and he did. But about 10 minutes later, he came back into the ground-floor unit.
GETHIGA then told BLAIR to "get out, that he wasn't wanted in there at the time," COLEBY said.
BLAIR took issue with that and the two Friends started pushing, then punching each other, while others tried to break it up, COLEBY said.
BLAIR left the apartment. But when he was outside, he shouted a racial slur to GETHIGA, he said.
"(GETHIGA) just went in the kitchen and grabbed a knife," COLEBY said. "We all started fighting with him, trying to get him to drop the knife, but he was fighting and punching, he punched me in the face... and we couldn't get it."
GETHIGA made his way out.
By the time COLEBY got outside, BLAIR was down in front of the building, lying in a pool of blood only metres away from his baby boy, his girlfriend and his Friends.
"There was all this blood and his face was so pale," COLEBY shuddered. "He was gurgling."
It was chaos.
BLAIR's girlfriend, Khoun, raced outside. At one point, she held her baby's father in her arms, screaming and crying.
She also called 911, while Friends tried cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
"She was hysterical," said COLEBY. She was holding BLAIR on the ground, crying out 'Who did this?'
At a friend's house later yesterday afternoon, the devastated young mother could hardly speak.
Holding her 23-month-old in her arms, tears rolled down her cheeks.
Then Khoun asked for a pen and paper to write something to her boyfriend of four years.
"We miss your smile, goofiness and loud mouth," she wrote. "Latteral and I will always love you deep within our hearts... We didn't lose anything. We gained an angel," she wrote.
BLAIR was born and raised in London, went to Sir Wilfrid Laurier secondary school and was taking adult education when he died, his Friends said.
"We're all Friends. We all grew up together," said Ken PHOMSAMOUT. "He had this great big smile."
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