Friday, November 05, 2010

Officer says he saw smoke

From the Kingston Whig-Standard online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

The Kingston Police officer who was in charge of the city's Major Case Unit in 2007 testified on Thursday that Richard Smith's apartment wasn't searched early in the investigation into cab driver David Krick's murder because he didn't have grounds for a search warrant.

Staff Sgt. William (Bill) Kennedy, who has since moved to head up a platoon of uniformed patrol officers, told jurors that he and other officers were prepared, in the early hours of June 18, 2007, to force their way into the 117 Carruthers Ave. apartment Smith then shared with his girlfriend. But, he said, "my intention was to stop the burning of the evidence that was going on there."

Under questioning by Smith's lawyer, Gregory Leslie, the staff sergeant said he believed "exigent circumstances" justified his entering the apartment without a warrant to collect what was left of fabric that was reportedly being burned in the bathroom. But he didn't have the authority to search the rest of the apartment for evidence, he said.

Kennedy also told Leslie he didn't attempt to get a telewarrant to authorize his entry that night because he feared the evidence would be completely destroyed in the one to five hours the process could take. Nor did he apply for a regular warrant the following day, because at that point, "I didn't believe we had the grounds to allege the offence that needed to be alleged."

Kennedy, who led the Kingston Police Major Case Unit for four years, was testifying at Smith's second-degree murder trial arising from the stabbing death of Amey's Taxi driver David Wayne Krick, who was 50 at the time of his death on June 17, 2007, Father's Day Sunday that year. Smith, 34, has pleaded not guilty to the crime.

Jurors were reminded again yesterday by Smith's defence lawyer, Leslie, that the 34-year-old wasn't charged with the murder until Oct. 11 that year, almost three months after it happened. Leslie also disclosed that his client was already in custody -- as a result of an arrest on Aug. 1 -- when the murder charge was laid.

Previous witnesses have alluded to a search warrant executed on 117 Carruthers, apartment No. 1, on Nov. 8, 2007 -- after Smith had been charged and almost four months after the murder. A plumber opened up traps on the drains at that time, but nothing linking Smith to Krick's fatal stabbing was recovered in the search.

A group of detectives and patrol officers led by Kennedy did enter Smith's apartment, approximately 18 hours after the murder, however. According to Kennedy, they went in around 12:30 a.m. on June 18, 2007, and remained there until 2:25 a.m.

Major Case Unit Det. Guy Forbes, who testified earlier in the trial, told jurors that he'd been trying to get a follow-up interview with Smith since late afternoon on the day of the murder.

Smith, jurors have heard, became a person of interest after a patrol officer found him walking on Palace Road at 7:43 a.m. not far from where the murdered taxi driver's cab had been discovered almost an hour earlier in a parking lot off MacPherson Avenue.

Police and taxis were still circulating in the area on the lookout for a six-foot man with short hair who'd been seen crouching between vehicles near the cab and then running from the parking lot in among the buildings of Queen's University's An Clachan apartment complex.

Smith, when he was stopped by Const. Edward Gaulton, was the right height and build and had short hair, but none of his clothes matched those of the runner, who'd been described as wearing a dark, long-sleeved jersey and light blue or faded jeans. Gaulton testified Smith was in beige pants, a red T-shirt and black ball hat and was carrying a green windbreaker.

Still, after failing to find Smith home at 4:20 p.m., Forbes returned to the Carruthers Avenue apartment around midnight. He told jurors he was unable to get a response from inside and was preparing to leave when a next-door neighbour told him a man had been burning what he and his wife believed was fabric in the bathroom of Smith's apartment.

Forbes relayed that information to Kennedy and Kennedy testified he arrived with other officers and "we were banging on the door, banging on the windows, yelling we were the police very loudly," but with no result.

Finally, he said he began kicking the door and other officers joined in until one of the triangular sections at the bottom cracked. He testified the door never budged on its hinges, but following the crack, "we heard a voice scream from inside and we could see a female running from the back telling us to stop."

He told jurors "we stopped," and the door was opened by Smith's girlfriend, wearing nothing but pyjama bottoms and crossing her arms over her chest.

Smith emerged from the back bedroom afterward wearing a housecoat and Kennedy said he didn't seem as upset as he would have expected.

Kennedy also said there was smoke hanging about a foot from the ceiling when they entered, which dissipated as officers came in and out over the two hours they were there. He recalled there were also a couple of small candles and some incense burning in the bathroom in the area of the sink and toilet, where jurors have already heard some fragments of charred fabric and fabric fibers, including small quantities of denim, were recovered.

Kennedy said the case against Smith didn't start to come together, however, until August, 2007, when the man with whom Smith had been staying on Joseph Street identified Holly Holland as the woman who'd spent several days in his apartment near the end of July, drug bingeing with him and Smith. Jurors were told that the man has since died.

Holland testified Wednesday that she and Smith were smoking crack cocaine together when he told her he'd stabbed the cab driver and she speculated that he was trying to impress her. She didn't care then, she admitted, because "once you do a hit of crack you'd sell your grandmother on the couch for another hit of crack." But after her drug of choice ran out and she'd returned home and slept off its residual affects, she told jurors her conscience couldn't handle knowing about a murder and doing nothing.

Consequently, she said she made an anonymous call to the Amey's Taxi stand on July 30, 2007, and supplied information to a dispatcher there that ultimately pointed investigators toward Smith.

Kennedy said "Holly was a dead end," when she'd been interviewed by detectives at Quinte Detention Centre earlier in July, before her drug binge with Smith. She was questioned originally, he said, on the suggestion of another potential informant and because she was a known crack addict.

Consequently, when the July 30 tip was relayed to the Major Case Unit, according to Kennedy, investigators thought the anonymous tipster might have been Smith's girlfriend.

Holland, meanwhile, had left Kingston with her uncle and cousins and returned to the East Coast.

Leslie asked if the staff sergeant was aware of Cape Breton Police withdrawing a probation violation against Holland on Nov. 19, 2007, more than a month after she gave a video-statement implicating Smith in Krick's murder.

"I wasn't," Kennedy told him. The case continues this morning at the Frontenac County Court House.

Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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