Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Charred material, threads found in suspect's toilet: detective

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

A Kingston Police detective testified Monday at Richard Smith's murder trial that 17 hours after cab driver David Wayne Krick was murdered, he and another officer went to the 34-year-old Smith's apartment and pounded on the door for at least five minutes, yelling "Kingston Police" and shining flashlights through the windows without getting any response from inside.

Det. Const. Guy Forbes told jurors that he was getting ready to leave when one of Smith's next-door neighbours "discreetly got my attention" and passed on some information that led to him calling for additional officers instead, one of whom tried to kick in the front door.

Smith is on trial for second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of Krick, 50. He's pleaded not guilty to the crime, which happened in the early morning hours of a Father's Day on June 17, 2007.

The jury has already heard testimony from Smith's neighbours, who watched a man in the bathroom of Smith's apartment next door at 117 Carruthers Ave. burning what they believed were strips of fabric for about an hour before midnight.

Christopher Pike told jurors, earlier in the trial, that after police arrived around midnight that night his wife made him go downstairs and talk to them. He said he told one of them about the burning and recalled that the officer thanked him, but looked perturbed as he went to his radio.

Forbes agreed, under questioning by Smith's lawyer, Gregory Leslie, that the Major Case Unit to which he was assigned had three different "persons of interest" early in the investigation and his client was only one of them.

He also agreed with Leslie that Smith had become a person of interest after he was found walking on Palace Road, not far from where Krick's taxi was abandoned on Macpherson Avenue, just shy of an hour after the cab was discovered.

Forbes testified that he was tasked, later that day, with talking to Smith and said he went to 117 Carruthers originally around 4:20 p.m. At that time, he said he spoke to another tenant in the same building, who assisted him in identifying which apartment Smith lived in, but told him Smith wasn't home.

Consequently, Forbes and another officer returned around midnight, he told jurors, and attempted "to wake someone up."

Forbes said the neighbourhood was very quiet and there was no one in the street when they arrived. He also told jurors they tried both the front and back doors of the split-level. He disclosed that he even boosted the other detective up on the rear deck where " he was banging and shining his flashlight inside," and reported that he could see a television on, but no other sign that anyone was home.

Forbes said that he could also smell smoke coming from the apartment and "there was smoke being illuminated in the beam of my flashlight."

It made him think someone was home, he told jurors, but "I didn't know what the source of the smoke was."

After speaking to Pike, however, Forbes said he called Staff Sgt. Bill Kennedy, who was in charge of the investigation, and asked for more officers. Then he and the detective he was partnered with that night assumed positions where they'd be able to see if anyone tried to enter or leave Smith's apartment.

Forbes said one of the patrol officers who subsequently arrived with Kennedy and other members of the Major Case Unit attempted to kick in the apartment's front door. But it turned out to be too heavy and didn't entirely give way.

Soon after he started trying, however, Forbes said the door was suddenly opened by a woman, identified to jurors as Smith's girlfriend.

As soon as they entered, he said "I observed smoke in the air."

Forbes, who said he's five-foot- 10, estimated that it was hanging about a foot or two above his head. He testified that he went directly to the bath-room, where he observed some charred material and blue threads in the toilet bowl. He didn't touch anything, he testified, but reported his discovery to Kennedy and then looked in the apartment's rear bedroom to ascertain whether anyone besides Smith and his girlfriend were in the apartment.

Forbes said they were the only ones there.

Jurors also heard from Const. Robert Etherington, the Kingston Police Forensic Identification Officer who collected the material from the toilet bowl in Smith's apartment, as well as some black flecks that caught his attention in the bathroom sink.

Etherington also took photographs; collected blood swabs from Durham Street where Krick was found on the sidewalk stabbed 31 times; and additional swabs and fingerprints from the exterior of his taxi about nine blocks away. The cab, Amey's Taxi number 71, was stolen after Krick was stabbed and was then driven back to the same area where he'd earlier picked up his last known fare on Wright Crescent. It was abandoned on the other side of Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard in the parking lot of Queen's University's An Clachan apartment complex off Macpherson.

Jurors learned that all of the blood swabs collected were later determined to be Krick's.

Likewise, there's no fingerprint evidence linking anyone to the crime.

Retired OPP forensic analyst Norman Sneddon told jurors "I wish it was like on TV, but it's not. The surfaces of a vehicle are not very good for fingerprint identification."

Sneddon fingerprinted the exterior and interior of Amey's Taxi number 71, a 2007 Chevrolet Impala, and inventoried and tested the contents of its interior. He found only a handful of prints suitable for identification and two of them belonged to other drivers while three weren't listed with AFIS, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System maintained by the RCMP. Under questioning by Smith's other defence lawyer, Mary Jane Kingston, he testified that none of the prints he found belonged to Smith.


Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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