Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jurors hear no new evidence at trial

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

Jurors at the trial of the man accused of murdering Kingston cab driver David Wayne Krick almost 3 1/2 years ago heard no new evidence Friday.

Instead, they spent the day unexpectedly closeted in their jury room and were brought into the courtroom around 4:40 p.m. with apologies from Justice Douglas Belch for the "long delay."

The judge then told them they wouldn't hear from another wit-n ess until Monday and sent them home for the weekend.

Richard Edmund Smith, 34, stands accused of second-degree murder in Krick's death by stabbing on Father's Day, June 17, 2007. He pleaded not guilty to the crime three weeks ago when his trial began in Kingston's Superior Court.

So far, jurors have heard evidence about the panic button in Krick's taxi being pushed that morning shortly before 6:45 a.m., sending a signal to his dispatcher that he was in trouble, and a subsequent 911 call he managed to make from his cellphone.

They've been told that while police and fellow taxi drivers searched the area around Park, Victoria and Durham streets for him, Krick's cab, Amey's Taxi No. 71, was driven west, back toward the neighbourhood where he'd picked up his last known fare. The cab was found, abandoned, in the parking lot of Queen's University's An Clachan complex off Macpherson Avenue.

The jury also heard testimony from the first two police officers to locate the stolen taxi. One of them, Const. Lester Tang, identified Smith in court as the man he chased but lost after seeing him crouched between two vehicles not far from the abandoned cab.

Tang, who also testified at Smith's preliminary hearing, had not previously made that identification.

Two cab drivers and a police officer described finding Krick on Durham Street, almost simultaneous with the discovery of his cab about nine blocks away, and the attempts that were made to revive him with CPR at the scene.

Jurors have been told the slender 50-year-old cab driver had been stabbed 31 times and the attack had collapsed both his lungs and punctured his heart.

Const. Edward Gaulton testified that in the aftermath of the stabbing, as police and cab drivers patrolled the streets around Macpherson looking for the suspect who had earlier run from the An Clachan parking lot, Smith was pointed out to him walking on Palace Road and he stopped and questioned him.

He told jurors that Smith, who he estimated to be six feet tall and approximately 180 to 190 pounds, was physically in the suspect's range, but the clothes he was wearing were completely different. The suspect for whom police were looking was believed to be wearing a black, long-sleeved jersey and light blue or faded blue jeans. Smith, when Gaulton saw him, was wearing beige pants, a red T-shirt, black ball cap and carrying a green windbreaker.

Gaulton was suspicious, however, of Smith's claim that he was just returning from the home of his employer, Harry Buttle, on Wright Crescent and that he'd gone to ask him about upcoming jobs early on a Sunday morning.

Buttle, a sub-contractor who worked installing carpet and flooring for 43 years, was in poor health and died before Smith's trial began. He testified at his helper's preliminary hearing in 2009, however, and jurors heard his recorded testimony from that day.

Buttle said he wasn't home between 7 and 9:30 that morning, having taken his wife's car for an oil change at Canadian Tire, near the Cataraqui Town Centre. Buttle said he left the car there and walked home to 94 Wright Cres. and never spoke to Smith that morning.

He testified that Smith told him later that he'd stopped by, however, and while Buttle believed him, he said he found it " strange," in that Smith had never come to his apartment before to ask about work.

Jurors have been told that police twice went to Smith's apartment at 117 Carruthers later that day. The first time, in the late afternoon or early evening, they spoke to a couple in the neighbouring apartment building who had just returned from a bridal shower in Cornwall.

Later, officers returned some time around midnight and those same neighbours told them about seeing a man in Smith's apartment burning what they believed were strips of fabric in the apartment's bathroom.

Jurors later heard from Barbara E. Doupe, a hair, fibre and textile expert from the Centre for Forensic Sciences, who examined a small quantity of cloth fibre and yarn, much of it charred, that had been collected by police from the toilet and sink of Smith's apartment.

She was able to identify some of the material as denim, but said there was too little of it to say whether it came from a garment or some other textile.

Det. Shawn Bough, who was a member of the Kingston Police Department's Major Case Unit at the time of the murder, has also testified to the jury that Smith was one of three persons of interest early in the case. Jurors have heard that Smith wasn't arrested the night of the murder when police collected the burned material from his bathroom.

His neighbour saw him working on his property the next day, and jurors learned from the preliminary hearing testimony of Smith's boss that he work for Buttle until August that year when the 62-year-old went into hospital.

The jury has yet to hear exactly how police came to charge Smith with the murder.

Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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