LONDON, Ont. – A man on trial for murdering and dismembering his friend in a southwestern Ontario hotel room admitted to the killing Monday, saying he stabbed his buddy after an abrupt, unwanted sexual advance.
But James McCullough also told a jury he blacked out during the attack and was revolted when he regained consciousness to find his friend’s body parts lying in a hotel bathtub.
“I’d just killed one of my best friends, he was dismembered,” he told a London, Ont., courtroom. “I threw up because of how disgusting it was.”
McCullough, 22, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body in 20-year-old Alex Fraser’s death.
The testimony he offered in a soft voice was the first time his trial heard his own version of how Fraser’s body parts ended up in two hockey style bags in a hotel room they shared for a night in September 2013.
Fraser, McCullough said, was “a great guy, an intelligent guy, a computer whiz.” The two would hang out on weekends, drinking and doing drugs, he said.
Around the time of Fraser’s death, McCullough used to deal marijuana and cocaine, court heard. McCullough also said he was taking anxiety medication at the time, but wasn’t taking pills he had been given for psychosis.
The trial has heard that on one Saturday night, after first drinking at McCullough’s home, Fraser and McCullough took a cab from Orangeville, Ont., where they lived, to London, with Fraser clearly intoxicated at the time.
McCullough explained that the trip was being made for three reasons — to party, to go shopping for clothes and to conduct a home invasion on a residence where he once lived when he had attended a college in the city.
He brought alcohol and two hockey-style bags on the trip, as well as a knife and knife-sharpener in his backpack that he said he usually had on hand “for protection,” because he was a drug dealer.
The jury has heard that the men checked into a Travelodge, where McCullough gave a fake name, a fake address and paid for the room in cash. The phoney name, McCullough said, was so that he couldn’t later be connected to the home invasion he and Fraser were planning.
Once in the room, the two young men drank about six shots of tequila each, talked about their plans in London and McCullough had some cocaine, he said.
McCullough then went for a shower and when he emerged from the washroom, he saw Fraser standing in the room, naked, between the two hotel beds, he said.
“I said ‘what are you doing, put your clothes on.’ He said he had liked me for a long time, he wanted to have sex with me,” said McCullough.
“I’m not sexually oriented that way and he knew that, so I don’t know why he was trying to do that with me.”
McCullough got angry and pushed Fraser, who made a grab for his genitals, he said. The two got into a tussle and Fraser fell to the ground, at which point McCullough said he “freaked out.”
“I grabbed my knife from my backpack and I stabbed him twice,” he testified. “I took a couple of steps back and everything faded to black.”
The next thing McCullough remembered was waking up on one of the hotel beds, recalling the stabbing and going into the washroom to see Fraser’s dismembered body in the bathtub, court heard.
“There was blood all over the place,” he said, adding that he felt “horrible” at the time.
“I started panicking, I felt overwhelmed,” he said. “I placed him in the hockey bags…that was probably one of the worst things I ever had to do in my life.”
McCullough said he then reached out to an old acquaintance in the hope of getting a ride out of town — the friend refused. He also called his uncle and his parents, court heard.
McCullough called 911 himself later that day, saying repeatedly “someone is dead and I am unarmed.”
When asked why he called police, McCullough said he did so “because it was the right thing to do.”