Thursday, October 28, 2010

Man burned items in home: couple

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

More than 16 hours after Amey's Taxi driver, David Wayne Krick was stabbed to death and his taxi stolen, jurors heard yesterday that a couple on Carruthers Avenue saw a man in Richard Smith's apartment next door burning what they believed were torn strips of cloth in the bathroom.

Smith is on trial in Kingston's Superior Court, charged with second-degree murder in Krick's death and has pleaded not guilty.

Christopher Pike and his wife, Dawn Pike, both testified separately that they didn't know any of their neighbours at 117 Carruthers on June 17, 2007, the day Krick died. They also didn't recall noticing Krick or his girlfriend, who also lived in the apartment, before that night.

The Pikes had lived on the top floor of the small apartment building next door to 117 Carruthers about six years at the time and were engaged to be married. They also told jurors they'd been out of town that Sunday at a bridal shower in Dawn Pike's honour in Cornwall and hadn't heard about the murder in Kingston, which had occurred between 6:30 and 6:45 a.m. that morning.

Christopher Pike testified that they drove back that afternoon, arriving home some time between 2 and 5 p.m., and recalled that his then fiance spent some time putting away all of the gifts she'd received.

He also recalled finding police on his street outside the apartments next door when they pulled in and that one of the officers asked if he'd seen his neighbour and that he told them "no."

Pike, under questioning by Smith's lawyer, Gregory Leslie, said the officer didn't use his client's name when he asked the question or identify the person he was interested in as the neighbour in apartment No. 1 at 117 Carruthers: He simply asked if he'd seen his neighbour.

Christopher Pike agreed with Leslie that the query was intriguing in that it was out of the ordinary.

But he testified he had no inkling of what was actually going on when his wife called him to their kitchen window around 11 p.m., alarmed at seeing flames in a window across the driveway at 117 Carruthers.

At first, he said, she thought it was a house fire and so did he: "Then I observed the fire wasn't out of control."

Pike said he saw a man standing in the apartment's bathroom setting long strips of what he took to be fabric on fire and dropping them out of view.

Once he ascertained that the apartment wasn't on fire, however, "I felt it was nothing to be alarmed about," he testified, "and none of our business."

He then returned to watching TV, but he said "Dawn watched the whole time," and intermittently called him back to observe the activity in their neighbour's bathroom.

Dawn Pike told jurors she'd gone to the kitchen for chocolate when she first saw the flames.

The lights in her kitchen were off at the time, she told jurors, and she was just reaching up to a glass shelf across the window above the sink when she saw the flame flicker in the corner of her eye.

"I thought our neighbour's house was on fire and I thought we should call the fire department," she testified, but her husband "told me I should mind my own business."

She kept watching, however, and observed that "the flames were floating" in the small bathroom window, which she estimated was about 30 feet away, down and to the right of her own vantage point. It looked like strips of fabric burning, she told jurors, "just by the way (the flames) moved." She also observed that the burning material was in different lengths and said she could hear faint sounds of fabric tearing from the open bathroom window.

She didn't smell any smoke, she testified. But her husband told jurors he did.

Dawn Pike also told jurors she could see it was a man doing the burning, although the light in the bathroom wasn't on. Both she and her husband testified there appeared to be light coming into the room from outside the room, possibly through an open door.

Dawn Pike also testified that she saw a woman with long hair enter the bathroom at one point and the pair seemed to her to have a conversation, although she couldn't hear anything that was said.

She told jurors she was able to see that the man doing the burning was thin, had short hair and tattoos on his forearms and that initially he was wearing a tank top, although later when he came into view he was bare chested and wearing only boxer shorts.

She said she got a good look at him because "at certain points he'd go right up to the window and he'd look left and right and then he backed away."

She estimated that she sat in her darkened kitchen and watched him lighting the fires for "an hour or more," and only left the window a couple of times "to argue with my husband because he was telling me to get out of the window and mind my own business."

Around midnight, however, the police returned: Just two plain clothes officers at first on the lawn and walking down the side of 117 Carruthers Avenue. Both Pikes recalled that there was no doubt about their identities, because one of them was wearing a bullet-proof vest with Police lettered across the back. Dawn Pike said she left the window to get her husband from the living room where he was still watching TV and insisted he go down and talk to them.

And Christopher Pike told jurors he did as she demanded and "once I waved one of the officers over, I told him what my wife and I had observed through the window," essentially that they'd seen a neighbour in 117 Carruthers burning what appeared to be fabric, and "the officer thanked me, looked perturbed" and went to talk on his radio.

Christopher Pike then returned to his apartment, stopping once, he said, to look through the stairway window, where he observed the man in the neighbouring apartment stop what he was doing to look outside toward the driveway.

At about the same time, Dawn Pike testified she was going back and forth between her kitchen window and the windows in her living room, which faced toward Carruthers Avenue.

When she looked out the kitchen window, the burning had stopped, she recalled, and when her husband returned to their apartment, they both stood and watched out the front windows as more police officers pulled up outside.

Christopher Pike estimated there were about seven of them on the property when he heard them ask loudly for someone to come to the door, which was followed, he said, by a loud bang.

After that, both Pikes saw police inside the apartment next door, in the kitchen and bathroom. Then, some time later that night, an officer came to their apartment and took statements from them.

The jury heard that was when the couple first learned that police were investigating a homicide. They've also been told, in earlier testimony, that Smith wasn't arrested that night.

The trial continues this morning at the Frontenac County Court House.

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