Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Officer testifies he saw accused on day of murder

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

A former Kingston Police officer was grilled Monday at the second-degree murder trial of Richard Smith.

Though he never identified him before, Const. Lester Tang testified that he saw Smith crouching near the taxi of slain cab driver David Wayne Krick the morning of the murder.

Jurors have already been told that before he succumbed to his wounds Krick, 50, was able to call police around 6:45 a.m. on the morning of June 17, 2007.

They've also heard that soon after dispatchers for the police and Amey's Taxi gave out Krick's last known location his taxi was reported on the move again. It ended up on MacPherson Avenue off the west side of Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard.

Tang testified that he was the second officer -- right behind now retired Const. Mike Campbell -- to arrive at the parking lot of Queen's University's An Clachan apartments off MacPherson, where Krick's taxi was abandoned.

As he turned his cruiser down MacPherson, Tang told the jury, his attention was drawn to a man he could see through a gap in the hedges, crouching between two vehicles.

"I was travelling quite slowly, I'd estimate between 10 and 20 km/h," Tang said, and by his estimate the crouching man was about 20 metres away, within about five vehicles of Krick's abandoned taxi.

"When I saw him, our eyes met," he told jurors. "He saw me as well and just took off running."

Tang, who transferred to the Guelph Police Department in February, said he was "very surprised by the quickness of his reaction and his speed when he took off." He estimated he had about one second to study the man's face.

His cruiser was also behind Campbell's at that point and Tang estimated it took another 30 seconds for the two vehicles to get into the parking lot.

He testified that he radioed he'd seen a suspect first from his cruiser and then from his mobile radio as he gave chase. Campbell also jumped out of his cruiser, he recalled, and started running after the man, as well, signalling to Tang to take another path through the centre of the complex.

Campbell previously testified that he was never able to catch up to the runner and lost him when he rounded a building. Tang said the man never crossed his path again that morning.

That evening, he told the jury, he looked through 925 mug shots without success. He selected photos of "three people I thought would resemble the guy I saw," he said, largely based on what he felt was a similar rounded face shape, but he never suggested any of those three might be the man he chased.

"My purpose," he said, "was just to start the process."

Assistant Crown attorney John Skoropada asked Tang if he ever saw the runner from that morning again and Tang said "not until the day of the preliminary hearing that was held last year." He then identified Smith in the prisoner's dock.

Smith's defence lawyer, Gregory Lester, was quick to point out that Tang was asked that exact question during the preliminary hearing, however, and his answer then was a simple "no."

Tang said he'd put too narrow an interpretation on the question when it was asked on that earlier occasion and claimed he didn't appreciate the significance of his being able to identify Smith as the runner.

"The investigation had already made an arrest of the correct person without my assistance," Tang explained. "I felt I was peripheral to the investigation."

He also agreed with Leslie that the first time he disclosed that he recognized Smith as the person he'd seen running from the parking lot that morning was during a conversation with assistant Crown attorney Skoropada just before the trial began two weeks ago.

His revelation, Tang con-firmed, came about after he noticed a photograph of Smith on a binder and made a remark to Skoropada to the effect that Smith looked different in the flesh.

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


Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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