Saturday, November 06, 2010

Prosecution turns over Smith case to defence

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

Jurors on the murder trial of Richard E. Smith were told Friday morning that the Crown has completed its case and will call no more evidence against the 34-year-old, who's accused of killing Amey's cab driver David Wayne Krick in 2007.

The trial now moves to a phase in which the defence has the opportunity, though no obligation, to call evidence. Smith's lawyer, Gregory Leslie of Toronto, has asked that the jury return Tuesday, when they'll learn whether they will hear from any more witnesses before they're asked to deliberate.

Jurors began hearing testimony in the case on Oct. 12 when they were told about the Father's Day Sunday morning when the panic button was pushed inside Krick's cab and a subsequent 911 call he was able to make, asking for help because he'd been stabbed.

Amey's Taxi dispatcher Kenneth Osborn testified that Krick had been dispatched to pick up a fare in the YMCA parking lot on Wright Crescent at 6:30 a.m. on June 17, 2007. He estimated it was 10 minutes later that the emergency signal from car 71 registered on his monitor and he went to voice trying to contact Krick, without success. Osborn told jurors he was alerting other taxi drivers in the vicinity that a member of the fleet was in trouble when he received the call from police "asking about car 71 and Dave Krick."

Osborn said he didn't know at that time how they'd got the car number or Krick's name, but he immediately accessed the cab's GPS (Global Positioning System) history and discovered it was moving down Victoria Street.

He stayed on the line with police dispatch, relaying the cab's route as it turned west, then cut down College Street almost to Union before backtracking to Brock, eventually coming to a stop west of Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard off Macpherson Avenue, in the parking lot of Queen's University's An Clachan apartment complex.

Krick, meanwhile, had been found by a fellow cab driver. He'd been stabbed 31 times and was lying across the sidewalk, partly on a lawn on Durham Street. He had no detectable vital signs, but a police officer and Amey's driver Shelley Scott, who both arrived very soon after his initial discovery, performed CPR on Krick until paramedics arrived and took him to hospital, where his chest was opened in an effort to save him.

However, forensic pathologist Dr. David Dexter, who performed Krick's autopsy the following day, told jurors that the pericardial sac around the 50-year-old cabby's heart had been cut; both of his lungs were collapsed by his wounds; and nine penetrating wounds he'd received had caused "extensive hemorrhage."

Dexter was unable to calculate the blood loss with accuracy, explaining that surgeons would have removed much of the fluid during their attempt to save Krick's life.

Dexter also suggested that due to the "relatively small entrance wounds" he found, Krick's external blood loss could have been much slower than his internal blood loss.

Jurors have also been told that as two Kingston Police cruisers turned onto Macpherson Avenue the morning of the stabbing -- just before they found Krick's cab -- Const. Lester Tang, who was driving the second cruiser, observed a man crouched suspiciously in the An Clachan parking lot between two vehicles. He testified that their eyes met and the man took off running.

Tang and Const. Mike Campbell, who was in the lead cruiser, gave chase after turning into the parking lot at 6:52 a.m., but were not able to catch the runner.

Tang, the only person to see the man's face, later looked at 925 mug shots without finding the runner, although he picked out photos of three individuals he thought bore some resemblance to the suspect.

Jurors were later told by Det. Shawn Bough -- who put the photo lineup together -- that Smith's picture had not been among those 925 images.

Jai Scouten, an Amey's cab driver who was cruising the area near the YMCA almost half an hour later, on the look out for the same runner for whom police were still searching, testified about a man walking south on Palace Road from Wright Crescent, who caught his attention because "I drove by him three times and he refused to look at me."

Scouten pulled over and spoke to the man, but said he became more suspicious when the stranger appeared to him to be a little too forthcoming, volunteering that he'd just been to the home of his employer on Wright Crescent to enquire about work.

Scouten told jurors that he pointed out the pedestrian -- Smith, as it happened -- to the first police constable he met farther along Palace Road.

Const. Edward Gaulton, who stopped Smith and talked to him around 7:43 a.m. after speaking to Scouten, was also suspicious of his explanation for his presence on Palace Road at the height of their man hunt.

Gaulton told jurors he patted down Smith, using the opportunity to scrutinize him for any trace of blood or sign of injury consistent with a knife attack. He testified that he saw neither and also noted that while Smith was in the suspect's range for height and build and had short hair like the man they were seeking, none of his clothing matched. The runner had been wearing blue jeans and Smith, 51 minutes after the sighting, was wearing beige pants.

Const. Tang, when he testified in the third week of Smith's trial, identified him in the prisoner's dock as the man he'd seen crouching for one or two seconds and then running from the An Clachan parking lot. But jurors also learned it was the first time Tang had ever made that identification, even though he'd previously testified at Smith's preliminary hearing late in 2009.

Smith's employer in June 2007, Harold (Harry) Buttle, died before the trial began. Jurors heard his preliminary hearing testimony, however, when he said he didn't see Smith the morning of the murder, but was later told by Smith that he'd come by the apartment to find out about jobs the following day.

Buttle, who was 64 at the time, said he found that odd. But he liked Smith and believed him. He disclosed, as well, that he sometimes drank with his helper and that they smoked cigarettes laced with cocaine together. Buttle mentioned several addresses where Smith had friends and had stayed during the time he knew him, including addresses on Cliff Crescent, just south of Macpherson Avenue.

Var ious forensic witnesses have also testified at the trial to date, but none of them have provided any link between Smith and the murdered cab driver. Fingerprint analysts found few useable prints in or on Krick's cab and the only two identified were eliminated as belonging to other cab drivers.

All of the blood found in the cab belonged to Krick and there was nothing to indicate how much, if any, might have got on his assailant. Likewise, none of the more than 10 knives collected by police was ever established to be the murder weapon.

Jurors have heard that the night after the murder, police tried to break down the door to Smith's apartment at 117 Carruthers Ave. without a warrant, after learning that a man had been seen in his bathroom burning what the next-door neighbours believed was fabric .

A hair, fibre and textile expert from the Centre for Forensic Sciences, later testified that she examined burned and unburned fabric fragments, fibres and yarns recovered from the apartment's toilet bowl and sink. She was able to determine that at least some of the material was denim, but wasn't able to say anything else about it.

Smith wasn't charged with the murder, jurors have been told, until October 2007 after police tracked down a woman who'd called in an anonymous tip to the Amey's Taxi stand two months earlier, on July 30.

She claims he admitted to her that he killed the cabby while she and Smith were bingeing on crack cocaine.

Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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