“This is Const. Cynthia Crocker,” a female voice states at the beginning of the video, identifying herself as a member of the RNC’s forensic identification section.
While the screen remains black, she gives a police case number and names two other officers who are with her.
“The time is 17:17 hours, on Saturday, October 10, 2015,” Crocker continues. “We are present at 30-alpha Quidi Vidi Road to execute a search warrant.”
The two-apartment house at 30A Quidi Vidi Rd. then comes into view, video shots from the front, back and side on a drizzly day. Next come video shots of the area inside the front door, with stairs leading up to the living room.
As the camera pans around the apartment, a lit Christmas tree, complete with tinsel, is seen standing by the living room wall. Music and a news report blares from a TV. A landline phone rings and goes unanswered.
In a room on the third level, amid clothes, video games, plastic bags and other items strewn across the floor, there’s a couch, bizarrely resting on top of a futon frame. Underneath the seat cushion, police discovered a Winchester 2200 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun, hacked off at both ends, wrapped in a hoodie. Underneath the futon frame, officers located a pair of black Nike Air Jordan sneakers.
The sneakers would later test positive for the DNA markings of Brandon Phillips on the inside and on the laces, and Larry Wellman — the man Phillips is accused of murdering — on the tread of one heel.
The gun, or at least one like it, would later be determined a match for pieces of wood found at the Captain’s Quarters hotel on the night Wellman was fatally shot there. A third piece, found to fit with the other two like puzzle pieces, was located in the apartment, hidden inside a kneewall in the front entrance, under a water and sewer pipe.
“The two wood pieces collected from the (murder) scene were aligned and they were fitted with this third piece, which appeared to be part of the gun stock,” Crocker said Wednesday, testifying in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s at Phillips’ murder trial.
Crocker, like her colleague Const. Pamela Pike, who testified last week, told the court of having been called in to process the room near the bar at the Captain’s Quarters hotel where Wellman was killed.
Wellman and his wife had been playing the VLTs and having a couple of drinks when a masked man armed with a gun entered and demanded money from the bartender. Video surveillance shows Wellman attempting to intervene, picking up a small table first, then a wooden stool, and thrusting them at the robber before he is fatally shot.
Crocker was the second witness to testify at the trial Wednesday. Earlier in the morning, RNC Const. Gregory Greeley took the stand, explaining he had been tasked with surveillance duties in the days after the Oct. 3, 2015 shooting. He had been told to watch a number of “targets,” he said, but the main ones were Phillips and his girlfriend, Jade Ball.
Ball is the daughter of Premier Dwight Ball, who was leader of the opposition at the time.
Greeley said he had observed Phillips and Jade Ball coming and going from 30A Quidi Vidi Rd. four days after Wellman’s death, and noticed Phillips using keys to gain entry into the apartment. Other people also came and went from the residence, Greeley said, though Phillips was the only one seen with keys.
Greeley said he also watched a building on Tiffany Lane at one point, and he understood it to be the home of Jade Ball’s father. Two Audis belonging to Dwight Ball were also tracked.
Jade Ball remained under surveillance for a few days after Phillips’ arrest, Greeley said, explaining she was a “person of interest” in the case, as was another man, John Squires. Squires, whom Greeley testified was a known criminal, was also under surveillance for a period of time.
In cross-examining Crocker, defence lawyer Jeff Brace pressed her on why police had seized a cast-off item containing DNA from Jade Ball, but didn’t send it away for testing, even though Ball was a person of interest.
Crocker said that at that point police had already gathered significant evidence against Phillips.
Paramedic Sarah Meyers also took the stand Wednesday. Meyers was among the first responders who attended the Captain’s Quarters hotel when Wellman was shot, and described attempting to apply pressure to his wounds.
She and her colleagues began CPR, she said, when Wellman’s pulse disappeared. He never noticeably regained it in the ambulance, Meyers said.
Captain’s Quarters bartender Janet Hutchings will be the Crown’s 16th witness to testify when court resumes Thursday morning. She is expected to be the final witness called before prosecutors Shauna MacDonald and Mark Heerema rest their case.
Brace and co-defence lawyer Mark Gruchy say they expect to wrap up their case next week, after which the jury will start deliberations.