Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trial into cabbie's murder begins

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

Almost three and a half years after it happened, jurors on the second-degree murder trial of the man accused of killing Kingston cab driver David Wayne Krick heard their first evidence in the case yesterday in Kingston's Superior Court of Justice.

Richard Edmund Smith, 34, has pleaded not guilty to the homicide charge and it's anticipated his trial will continue over the next five weeks.

In his opening statement to the seven women and five men of the jury, assistant Crown attorney John Skoropada briefly described the events of that fatal June 17, 2007 morning.

It was Father's Day, a Sunday, and Krick, who was 50 at the time, was working the day shift when, according to Skoropada, he was dispatched to pick up a fare on Wright Crescent.

The call was assigned to him just after 6 a.m., the prosecutor told the jurors, and at 6:44 a.m. the emergency button in Krick's cab was depressed on Durham Street, alerting staff at Amey's Taxi that he was in some kind of trouble.

Skoropada said the cab company was able to use GPS to begin tracking the cab as it doubled back west again, ending up in a parking lot off Macpherson Avenue behind Queen's University's An Clachan apartments, on the opposite side of Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard from Wright Crescent.

He told jurors that police officers saw someone crouched down beside the taxi as they pulled onto the lot, but he ran and disappeared among the buildings that make up the complex.

By then, the cab's fatally injured driver had also been located by fellow Amey's drivers and police on Durham Street. Skoropada told the jury and Justice Douglas Belch that there will be evidence from a pathologist, later in the trial, concerning the 31 wounds inflicted on him.

He also told jurors that a short time after Kingston Police issued their officers with a description of the man seen earlier crouched by the abandoned taxi, Smith was found walking in the general vicinity and was stopped and questioned by an officer. Physically, he matched the description, according to the prosecutor, "but his clothing did not."

Skoropada said Smith told the officer who questioned him that he'd been out in the neighbourhood seeing about a job. The jury was told that Smith was allowed to go about his business but later that night, officers went to the apartment where he was staying to follow up.

Skoropada told them police knocked on the door, but Smith didn't answer and later, after they gained admittance, he told them some fibrous and charred material was recovered from the apartment's bathroom.

Smith wasn't arrested at that time but the following day, Skoropada told the jurors, a female friend of Smith's was released from Quinte Detention and she subsequently claimed to have met with him to do drugs. She additionally claimed that Smith had talked to her about the taxi driver's stabbing. She later left the province, but ultimately gave a statement to police.

Yesterday, Skoropada opened the Crown's case with two witnesses who both testified to events prior to murder.

Dianne Osborn recalled seeing a white Amey's taxi pull up on Wright Crescent around 6 a.m. that June 17 morning as she was watering her plants. She didn't see the driver of the cab, however, and couldn't really describe the solitary white male she saw get into the taxi.

Dawhlia Martin-Chatterton, 28, told jurors that she'd spent the Saturday evening into the early morning hours of June 17 with Smith. Martin-Chatterton said she first met him some time in the previous year at the XXX Sports Bar attached to the Rest Inn on upper Princess Street. "We were acquaintances, we would meet up at the bar the odd time," she recalled.

She agreed with defence lawyer Gregory Leslie of Toronto, however, that she was attracted to his client, who she'd earlier described as "quite scrawny" at the time compared to his current physique.

She told the jury she saw him three or four times and then, on that Saturday evening, June 16, 2007, she phoned Smith and asked if he wanted to go out for drinks.

He did and Martin-Chatterton said he arrived at her place on South Bartlett Street, about a block from the bar, between 6 and 7 p.m. They had a beer there together before heading out, she recalled.

She testified that they drank all night at the XXX Sports Bar and left at closing time, which she estimated would have been about 2 a.m. By then, they'd been joined another man she identified only as 'Chris'.

The three of them took a cab to Chris' apartment on Guy Street, she testified, where they "hung out and had a drink."

She disclosed, with some prompting from Skoropada, that she also had sex with both men in the Guy Street apartment, "me and Chris and Rich."

She was drunk, she admits, and eventually decided to go home to her own place. She said Smith called a cab for her and came outside to wait with her on the street but "he wanted me to stay there because he wanted to party some more."

"I said I was too tired," she told the court, and remained firm about going home.

She remembered Smith telling her that he'd come by her place later and testified that when she woke up "noonish" on Father's Day she found a message from him on her answering machine recorded at 4 a.m.

"It was along the lines of, 'I'm outside your house; you're not answering your phone; you're not answering your door. Where are you?' "

She told the jury she'd slept right through and never heard her phone ringing or her doorbell and it was a month or two before she saw Smith again.

Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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