A 25-year-old woman left for dead in the parking lot of a Mississauga townhouse complex called 911 to report she had been shot in the head and gave the dispatcher her boyfriend’s name, a Peel police officer told a Brampton murder trial Wednesday.
Alicia Lewandowski had been shot at least three times, including once to the chest and another shot to the head, when she called police in the early hours on March 5, 2018, Peel Const. Nicholas Harris, the lead forensic identification officer on the case, testified.
"A female had called 911 to advise that she had been shot in the head … She mentioned her boyfriend’s name, " Harris said, describing how he was briefed about what had happened in the visitor parking lot behind the Rathburn Road and Dixie Road townhouse that Lewandowski shared with her mother.
Harris said investigating officers advised him witnesses had heard four shots and video captured a dark-coloured vehicle entering the complex at 4:58 a.m., before exiting four minutes later.
Lewandowski was pronounced dead at the scene. Police found three live rounds on the pavement of the parking lot, along with a cellphone and evidence of broken glass.
Her boyfriend, Joseph Chang, then 39, was arrested in Toronto about 14 hours later and charged with first-degree murder.
He has pleaded not guilty.
His judge-alone trial is being conducted via Zoom video conference before Ontario Superior Court Justice Jennifer Woollcombe. Chang has been in custody since his arrest. He appeared by video from a secured room.
On Wednesday, Mira Lewandowski told the court that Chang and her daughter had a "volatile" relationship.
"He had utter and complete control over her and he was insanely jealous, " she said during cross-examination from defence lawyer Randall Barrs. "He isolated her and he wanted her just to himself."
Mira Lewandowski told courts how she tried unsuccessfully to keep her daughter away from Chang, and that by 2017, she had become increasingly concerned after it became clear that the couple were addicts who used drugs including cocaine and crack cocaine.
Barrs said that by the time of Alicia’s killing, she and Chang "were both in bad shape as far as drug addiction is concerned, " adding that the Humber College student, who was studying esthetics and spa management, wanted to be around people, including Chang, who had access to drugs.
Her mother responded: "Her addiction was controlling her decisions, along with the fact that he was the person who could feed the addiction."
She also testified that during a phone conversation, Alicia told her Chang had threatened to put a bullet in her head after she visited his Toronto apartment and he wouldn’t open the door.
Alicia called the police over concern for Chang’s mental well-being at the time, her mother testified.
A bizarre sequence transpired, including reports that Chang had flooded his apartment and started making suicidal remarks, leading Alicia to worry Chang might harm himself, her mother recalled.
At this, Barrs suggested his client had deteriorated to the point where he had "lost touch with reality."
Jason Miller’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star