Justice Sadie Bond: for the record

(Winnipeg's Old Law Courts Building)
(Winnipeg’s Old Law Courts Building)

Presented below are the personal comments from the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench’s newest Justice, Sadie Bond, from her swearing-in ceremony on Friday.

Her ceremony was jointly held with Justice Vic Toews. But her appointment was no less significant.

I’ve known Justice Bond as a top federal prosecutor over the last few years — ‘known’ in the sense of seeing her in court fairly often.

She was always friendly and approachable to get the obligatory ‘no comment’ from after the latest round of organized-crime suspects were direct indicted to trial.

I say that without sarcasm. Reporters are obligated to ask for comment even though we know none will be forthcoming.

As a Crown prosecutor, Ms. Bond handled some of the biggest and most complex federal cases in Manitoba we’ve seen in the last few years.

It was gratifying to hear what an amazing career she’s had to date, and prior to coming to Manitoba a few years ago — which you too can hear about in her comments.

I have no doubt she’ll be an awesome judge.

(Audio has been ever so slightly edited for privacy reasons.)

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Davis Trial: Week 1 evidence recap

[Republished without editing from the Winnipeg Free PressCrime Scene‘ blog on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014]

Chad Davis
Chad Davis

Two men on trial for a ghastly crime: The alleged first-degree murder of a handsome young Winnipeg man, a cocaine dealer, who went missing for months and was found July 23, 2008 in a barrel pulled from the Lee River.

Corey Tymchyshyn and Kristopher Brincheski are accused and presumed innocent.

After week one of the hearing, here’s a breakdown of the evidence Crown prosecutors have presented thus far in this deadly serious case, which they say occurred Feb. 6, 2008. Davis’s disappearance after this date was a missing persons investigation until his body was discovered.

[You can read Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson’s opening address to the jury here to get the crux of the allegations. This lenghty post is more to ground readers on the actual evidence that’s being presented].
Also, I’ve presented it (with one exception) without distinction of whether the evidence was led on direct by the Crown or cross examination by defence lawyers.

I suspect to the 11-person jury, it’s important they just hear it all and then try to sort out what’s what. It’s the answers, not the questions, that are the evidence.

And remember: the golden guideline is, they can accept all, some or none of what a witness tells them.

Richard Marcotte

  • Lives in Winnipeg, owns cottage on the Lee River since 1989 that he built himself. Goes almost every weekend in the summer, not as often in wintertime.
  • Has never seen the Winnipeg River completely frozen, “not really.”
  • The current of the water on the Lee River at his cottage flows north to south, is “fairly strong” in the centre. “Not much” from east to west.
  • A public walkway to a dock next to his cottage is meant for cottagers in the area, “backlotters,” who don’t have waterfront property.
  • On July 5, 2008, saw barrel in water. Thought it may be debris from a dock that had broken up elsewhere. On this day, he rolled it onto the shore as far as he could. It was black and had holes near the plastic lid, which was sealed with a steel snap ring.
  • He left the item there until July 23 when he and another cottager moved to move and dispose of it. He unsnapped it and saw a white/black tarp inside. The friend pulled on it until he saw a “belt and pants” inside. The friend had a better look and told him to get out.
  • They did and called police, who arrived in 5 minutes. He did not take anything out of the barrel.
  • Says he didn’t open it at first because he was alone, that’s why he left it for two weeks.
  • Admits anyone could have come and gone up and down the public walkway to use the public dock, which isn’t supervised.
  • Shown picture of current winter conditions in the area, can’t disagree the water appears frozen over.

RCMP Cpl. Maria Forester, forensic analyst [first appearance]

  • July 23, 2008: learned at 1:30 pm she was being dispatched to Lee River scene. Arrived there at 4:23 p.m.
  • Serious Crime Unit and RCMP divers there already.
  • Barrel is now turned upright, wrapped in a shroud and then fished out with a winch.
  • Her next involvement was next day at autopsy at HSC.
  • The “pebbled texture” of the barrel not good for fingerprinting.
  • Barrel is cut to extract the person carefully from the Barrel.
  • Victim is wearing grey socks, a Versace black jacket, blue jeans and a grey hoodie.
  • He has a black extension cord around his neck.
  • A baseball cap with rhino symbol and gloves are also in the barrel.
  • Samples taken for DNA analysis.
  • A “black coil” is found amongst the materials post removal
  • Barrel was seized and taken back to the RCMP forensic lab on Academy Road for testing.
  • A room is set aside specifically for this case.
  • The barrel is 90 cm tall and 58-59cm wide.
  • Fingerprinting done on it.
  • May 20, 2009: Further testing on barrel and tarp [a laser-light exam]

Day 2: Forensic Pathologist Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra

  • He’s Manitoba’s Chief Medical Examiner, has been since 1999, directed autopsy of Chad Davis
  • Says barrel was cut with a saw to preserve as much as possible.
  • “Heavy objects” like a large square piece of metal and some pulleys found in the barrel.
  • The small bit of black plastic recovered “appeared like a corkscrew,” “probably came from the barrel.”
  • The victim has a tattoo, the word “Davis” in Old English lettering on back of left upper arm.
  • Weighed 130 lbs at time of autopsy.
  • Cause of death ruled to be: blunt force to the head, “multiple blows received to the head.”
  • Just one of the skull wounds the victim received may have caused incapacitation, a fall and perhaps death.
  • “He did not die within weeks, probably months.”
  • Temperature of the water would have an effect on the degradation of the body.
  • Rice could be identified in his stomach contents.
  • “An object, something like a hammer,” could have caused the wounds to head.
  • It’s consistent with findings that he was hit from behind with hammer.
  • Evidence of drowning: none he could find.
  • The cord around his neck was loose, and no associated trauma from it.
  • No evidence of defensive wounds on his body.
  • Couldn’t say if victim bent over, already down or standing when struck.
  • “I can’t say with certainty how this happened.”
  • Injuries to front of face not consistent with being hit there, more likely from fall.
  • Again: “I can’t say exactly how this happened.”
  • Can’t say if one attacker or two.

Courtney Sych, Davis’s girlfriend at time he went missing Feb. 6, 2008.

  • Davis had been her boyfriend on and off for 1.5 years.
  • “At that point, he was my world. He was all I had.”
  • Not always the nicest guy, especially towards start of their relationship, as it progressed, “he was a great guy.”
  • Fall 2007 into winter 2008, they were on/off a few times.
  • Says they got back together on Dec. 27, 2007.
  • Jan. 12, 2008, she left Winnipeg to go to B.C. for work, was “kind of looking for a fresh start,” mom in BC offered her one.
  • “We cried a lot when I left for that airport.”
  • She came back to Wpg on Jan 30, 2008 when Chad asked her to come back and paid her ticket.
  • She went to meet him at Hargrave Street apartment where he lived with “Corey” [Tymchyshyn] at the time, stayed with him a couple of nights there.
  • They talked of going to Calgary together.
  • Tymchyshyn was moving back with mom at 703 Prince Rupert Ave. because he didn’t have rent money.
  • She and Davis started staying in hotels, first the Capri, then the Westwood Super 8 and then the Red Lion Inn.
  • He’d call his mom once a day. Parents are “amazing people” he was close with.
  • Davis wasn’t skinny.
  • He was “OCD” about his appearance. “Everything had to be perfect”
  • He wore expensive brand-name clothes because he wanted to look sharp. He wouldn’t go out unless he looked good, clothes matched.
  • He was protective of his possessions.
  • Never saw him lend things to friends.
  • Was he cheap? “He wouldn’t waste money.” Not flashy with cash.
  • “He wouldn’t ever” take cabs, even if drinking. “He had to do it himself. He wouldn’t rely on a cab driver or a ride.”
  • Never saw him leave things at friend’s house.
  • Knew he had a storage locker at Dino’s Storage – thought that Corey hooked him up with it.
  • They went there once, put boxes in there they didn’t want to take to Calgary.
  • Admits he sold drugs, and that no-contact order was in place between them after incident at her workplace.
  • She has no criminal record.
  • On Feb. 6, 2008, they were “the best they ever were” at that time.
  • They moved this day to the Red Lion Inn on Portage. Was a “cheap place” and she hated it.
  • Were to leave to Calgary on Feb. 8.
  • He said before they left, he had to have something fixed on his truck and “collect a few debts from a few people.”
  • Prior to arriving at Red Lion, he and Tymchyshyn spoke, he said he needed a ride.
  • They arrive at Red Lion at 11:30 a.m. checked in
  • Had lunch at Chinese food place attached to hotel. She’s not 100 per cent sure if he had rice to eat.
  • They then grabbed small amount of things from his Jeep, which was full of stuff for their move.
  • They went to room, it was “cheap,” and “only for a few nights,” he told her.
  • He said he had to go give Corey a ride and he’d be back in half an hour – his last words to her.
  • “All of his luggage” was in the Jeep, including a black Swiss army suitcase. There was also a Rubbermaid container.
  • She left a duffle bag in there, boxes.
  • He left his “perfect” eyebrow tweezers in the room and a laptop bag and a day planner.
  • “I was a nosey girlfriend. He’d tell me stuff. But he wouldn’t tell me everything.”
  • “Raspy” was Tymchyshyn’s nickname.
  • The planner was to keep track of who owed him what money. He never used real names, but nicknames.
  • On a loose slip of yellow paper in it, “Raspy” is listed [among other names] with the numbers 21,850 and 26,850
  • He left his wallet in the hotel room with ID in it and credit card.
  • She discovered $5,000 cash in his laptop bag. “Thank God he did” as she was totally broke.
  • Two hours pass, and he’s not back. Using pay phone in hotel, she decided to phone him repeatedly.
  • Called him that day “as much as I possibly could have.”
  • He only had the number of 296-6036 to her knowledge.
  • Called Tymchyshyn’s mom’s line to leave him a message.
  • The next day, tried calling hospitals and his friends, who didn’t seem concerned at all.
  • “I don’t care about you. I don’t care about Chad,” one told her.
  • She ended up living on the $5,000 she found.
  • When he left, he was wearing a “Hardy” belt, name brand jeans, hat with rhino symbol on it and black Versace jacket.
  • Davis “really liked watches.”
  • His jewelry box was in the Jeep, wooden with mirrored back. She ID’s box shown to her in court [in evidence bag] as being his.
  • Says she saw him pack “not neatly” when leaving Tymchyshyn’s Hargrave apartment.
  • She’s shown other items – a cardboard box with Davis’s family’s business logo on it and her handwriting, a floor lamp and a nylon DVD case – IDs them as his.
  • Says the lamp was in the storage unit at Dino’s. Her pillow, pink, was also shown to her.
  • She spoke to RCMP on three occasions in the homicide probe.
  • She’s positive the heating pad she’s shown was in the Jeep at the time she last saw Chad.
  • Sych describes watches Davis wore – one of them slightly broken, missing a strap pin – and posters he had, including a “Scarface” poster.
  • Davis’s key to get into the lock on the storage unit door at Dino’s was kept in his Jeep’s cupholder.
  • He owned two TV sets, one a “flatscreen” the other heavy and “old school.”
  • She was at Davis’s funeral. Tymchyshyn was not.
  • The message she left on Tymchyshyn’s mother’s line on Feb. 6, 2008 was not returned.

DAY 3 – Sych returns, cross-examination

  • Had been to Tymchyshyn’s mother’s home on Prince Rupert “a while previous.”
  • Agrees the distance between Red Lion Inn and Tymchyshyn’s mom’s is “polar opposite” ends of city.
  • Davis’s half-hour estimate of being away was a casual statement, not a definitive timeline.
  • He could have gotten texts or other calls when they were eating at the Chinese restaurant.
  • She can’t recall Davis getting other calls other than the one from Tymchyshyn.
  • She remembers seeing the phone lying on the bed, seeing it was Tymchyshyn’s number.
  • “I have no idea” if Davis got call from another friend, SW, when they were eating.
  • SW was a “nice boy” whom Chad would smoke up with sometimes.
  • SW was one of the only people who seemed concerned after Davis went missing.
  • His other friends: “I always told him they weren’t his real friends – more like business associates.”
  • Another of Davis’s friends said: “go f’ yourself, and you and Chad go f’ yourself.”
  • Another, CC, suggested she had something to do with his disappearance on first conversation, on second, he was more helpful. Told her to “wait it out,” because “Chad’s a little on the weird side sometimes.”
  • She couldn’t say if these men worked for Chad in his drug business or were friends. “I fully 100 per cent do not know.”
  • Admits he had vanished without telling her once before, in 2007 when he upped and left for Toronto. This upset her.
  • He had also not called her when he was arrested for a drug matter and stopped answering her phone.
  • Admits after Davis went missing on Feb. 6, she found the money in the bag and went for a friend to have a drink.
  • Talk of going to Calgary was not spontaneous or out of the blue, it had been discussed before.
  • She says she doesn’t remember telling Davis’s mother in Feb. 14, 2008 call that he was taking her out to Calgary and then coming back.
  • Admits there was a no-contact order between them at the time. “I was looking to get the charges dropped … the no-contact order.”
  • There’s a note in the day planner for Feb. 5 to call Legal Aid and a phone number, but can’t recall if that call was made that day. “There was a few phone calls.”
  • She and Davis planned to leave without dealing with his outstanding warrants ASAP. The assumption was he’d come back and deal with them.
  • How drunk did she get on Feb 6 with her friend? “I’ve never been incredibly drunk that I didn’t know what was going on. I was not stumbling … slurring my words – I have never been that way.” But is a lightweight when comes to drinking. (Statement) Told police on Aug. 7, 2008 that she and friend ended up getting “right retarded” after going for the drink on Feb. 6, 2008.
  • “I was never a disaster drunk.” – can only tolerate so much, saying she hadn’t eaten all day.
  • Over next few weeks: “I really drank myself stupid every day.” “Because I really didn’t know what was going on.”
  • Yes, it was Davis who paid her way back to Winnipeg from B.C.
  • The list of names and numbers in the day planner was, to her, a score sheet. “That’s what I get out of it. That they owed him money for drugs.”
  • Yes, Davis had a temper and would sometimes take it out on her. But he had “softened up … with me.”
  • “His whole self, toward the end (became) more gentle, caring, thoughtful.”
  • The worst he’d even been to her was in their initial weeks of dating. “A lot of girls like the bad boys.”
  • Saw hope in him, that he needed love in his life.
  • “Me staying with him made him a better person in the end. He needed my love … I gave him chances, and I’m glad that I did.”
  • Yes, his lifestyle was risky
  • He had “tons” of people who didn’t like him. “I don’t know how many times i had to fight, to say there’s a different side to him.”
  • In one of her police statements, she said there’s a typo in that one of his perceived enemies was not SW, his friend, but a Hells Angels guy. (She couldn’t say that he definitely was an HA).
  • He and another friend, MK – had a falling out and over money, now they “hated” each other.
  • Davis would have no problem punching someone out. He had access to a gun in the past. “He wouldn’t carry it with him, per se.”
  • RCMP asked her to describe various objects to them. She was not shown items by them. “They said it wasn’t allowed.”
  • Says she initially tried to pass day planner off as her own in an effort to shield Davis from police scrutiny (before he was found dead). They ended up taking it anyways.
  • In police interview on March 10, 2008, was not trying to mislead police in any way.
  • Yes, told police “he can be a puke,” that Davis, “mentally, he wasn’t all there, that he had problems.”
  • Yes, told police he didn’t have a lot of friends because he can be “cocky.”
  • The history of domestic violence between them was “not severe.”
  • Dec 27, 2007 was the date she moved in with Davis on Taylor. He had been living with a friend, RMG, but he told her it was Tymchyshyn. So he lied to you? “Yeah.” (shrugged).
  • Davis was paranoid about police.
  • “He was a secretive person” and wouldn’t surprise her he didn’t tell his parents about moving to Calgary with her.
  • Tymchyshyn had the password to Davis’s laptop when they lived together. She didn’t.
  • Yes, he had used steroids in the past and his temper was worse when he did.
  • Agreed she told police in statement that she didn’t know what to believe when Davis said things. “Sometimes, yeah.”
  • On back of “scoresheet” was numbers totalling up to 287,000 (this is imputed to be dollars).
  • No, he never mentioned having that much money.
  • Davis and Tymchyshyn had been “good friends,” but sometimes called him “a goof.” But then, they’d hang out again.
  • She wasn’t 100 per cent sure they had a grow-operation together, Davis said it was Tymchyshyn’s but he’d help with it.
  • Yes, Davis used BBM “Pin” function a lot to ensure security of communications.
  • No, one of his oldest friends, RMG, was not at his funeral. A lot of people expected there were not.
  • Corey didn’t like you. “I know.” And you didn’t like Corey. “I know.”

Det. Matthew Freeman, Winnipeg police (organized crime as of Feb. 2008, now major crimes unit)

  • Has taken hundreds of statements from people over his 14+ years as a cop
  • Feb. 12, 2008 – was assigned with other OCU’s to look into General Patrol report made by Sych that Davis was missing. OCU involved because of Davis’s connection to drug trade.
  • Spoke with Tymchyshyn’s mom on Feb. 15, 2008, at home on Prince Rupert, last place Davis had been heard from or seen.
  • Spoke with her in kitchen for 20-25 minutes: “I found she was incredibly nervous and incredibly anxious.”
  • That led to Feb. 19, 2008 conversation with Tymchyshyn at Prince Rupert after playing “phone tag” with him for a couple of days.
  • He asked to speak with Tymchyshyn in cruiser car for privacy. He was not under arrest, could have left.
  • The tone was “fairly genial, fairly light.”
  • “There was no other information at that time to suggest anything else had happened” (it was missing persons case).
  • Tymchyshyn said he met Davis via mutual friends in summer 2007, were former roommates on Hargrave.
  • That he and his girlfriend had a rocky relationship.
  • Took Tymchyshyn’s phone number and DOB.
  • What Tymchyshyn told him: (according to Freeman’s notes and recall, in italics) he last saw Davis on Feb. 6-7 in early afternoon at Tymchyshyn’s mom’s home. He came over there. 
  • They were supposed to go to a hydroponics store in Davis’s Jeep. 
  • Said Davis visited with him and mom for 30-60 mins, “was in good spirits.”
  • Had seen him using his BB and texting. 
  • A white-coloured cab came, he couldn’t say what company. 
  • The driver was an East Indian male who was clean shaven and had black hair. 
  • Davis appeared to be familiar with him because they shook hands. 
  • Davis took a black suitcase and a blue Rubbermaid container out of his Jeep and put them in cab. 
  • Was not aware where he was going. 
  • Davis said he “was going out of town for a few days, that (Tymchyshyn) needs to come to pick him up when he returns.”
  • His other friend, RMG, was to come get the Jeep from Tymchyshyn, that the keys were left with Tymchyshyn for that purpose.
  • Tymchyshyn admitted he owed Davis money for cocaine, $18,000.
  • He made it clear to us it was for personal cocaine use.”
  • The debt had accumulated over 30-45 days,
  • He had repaid that amount to Davis through income at his legitimate job;
  • And also by lending Davis the use of his Chevy Avalanche “for a period of time.”
  • The Avalanche had been returned to him by RMG on Feb. 12 or 13. “The debt had been paid, and now it was OK to have the truck returned.”
  • Some East Indian males had been using the Avalanche. 
  • Tymchyshyn said “he was concerned about Chad and had no idea where he’d gone.”
  • Birth certificate of a man named Siran was found in the Avalanche when he got it back, Tymchyshyn had said. 
  • Freeman: Kris Brincheski’s name never once came up in missing person’s investigation.
  • Freeman says he never got a call from a man named Michael Goulet or from Dino’s storage.
  • Admits he had no “baseline” to judge Tymchyshyn’s mom’s behaviours and mannerisms.
  • Tymchyshyn never said he sold cocaine.
  • “I was actually kind of surprised he (Tymchyshyn) acknowledged the debt in the first place.”

ADMISSION OF AGREED FACTS

  • Police were tasked with finding out of taxis (white ones) dispatched to 703 Prince Rupert after 12 noon on Feb. 6, 2008
  • There’s no record of any cab being dispatched.
  • Spring Taxi could not provide records because they no longer existed. The company does have white cabs in its fleet.

DAY 4:

Day begins with two questions from jurors, who want to know how much cocaine $18,000 could buy and at what designation [wholesale or retail]. They also want to know if there was a delay in asking Spring Taxi for their dispatch records. Justice Brenda Keyser acknowledges the questions on the record and asks them to be patient and hear all the evidence before deciding to seek answers.

Next witness, Lori Davis

  • Is Chad Davis’s mother.
  • Calls Davis, “my baby boy,”
  • Says he was a “physical fit buff” and thought he was a good-looking guy.
  • Davis struggled in school, “he had to learn everything the hard way … like a wild stallion sometimes.”
  • “I talked to him all the time. He called me daily, generally … it was the norm for us to talk to Chad every single day.”
  • Even if he left town, he’d still phone, even if the details he gave were sketchy
  • “It would be abnormal, absolutely” to no hear from him every day.
  • He liked to look good, liked “bling” like jewelry and watches.
  • He was “meticulous” about caring for his car, “it was his prized possession.”
  • “He told us he would trust no one with his car except for his dad.”
  • Davis had two big screen TVs.
  • “Chad would always make it clear to us he didn’t trust his friends … he didn’t lend anything out. He didn’t trust anybody.”
  • She did not know him to take taxi cabs, that if he ever needed a ride, he’d call his dad.
  • Phone was attached to dad’s hip: “the Chad phone.”
  • “The bottom line is we loved our little boy, we wanted to keep him safe. For 22 years all we wanted to do was keep him safe and we couldn’t.”
  • Davis “didn’t like rules … was extremely defiant.”
  • She became aware when he was 19 that he was selling drugs. She says she sort of “stalked him” to keep tabs on what he was up to.
  • She and Davis had talked about him getting out of town to get a fresh start.
  • As of fall 2007, he had been living in suite on Taylor, alone.
  • He asked for help moving out of there because he wound up in jail for a short time.
  • She and husband “put his stuff into storage.” – Dino’s Storage.
  • For the couple of months before he went missing, had been living with Tymchyshyn.
  • She didn’t know he moved again after living with Tymchyshyn.
  • Some of his things – like a black sectional – wound up in her home because Davis was afraid it would get wrecked in storage.
  • Davis came for dinner on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, stayed about 1-1.5 hours (usual amount of time).
  • Saw him next day, Feb. 4, when he “popped by” to deal with a car issue.
  • After this day, 48 hours passed and she began getting worried because they hadn’t heard from him.
  • The only time he had stayed out of touch for more than 48 hours in past was when he was in lockup and couldn’t access phone.
  • He drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee. She saw it when she and husband went to go pick it up from Tymchyshyn “the next week.”
  • It was Chad’s dad who went to door to get keys. They drove vehicle to their business.
  • Says she quickly looked inside it, saw a case of water bottles and a box of cleaning supplies. And, a big speaker.
  • She did not see a suitcase nor a rubbermaid container inside.
  • This was around Feb. 11-12.
  • Police eventually called to ask to search the Jeep, now parked in their driveway. “I can’t recall the exact date.”
  • Police took vehicle and then gave it back.
  • After Davis’s homicide was discovered after he was missing for 189 days, RCMP wanted the Jeep.
  • On March 6, 2008 told WPS missing persons investigator she believed Sych, the girlfriend, “had lied in the past,” was emotional and temperamental in her view.
  • Davis was a “hot head,” had a temper.
  • She knew Davis had a tattoo.
  • “Yes, he was secretive, absolutely.”
  • He wouldn’t give parents his apartment number on Hargrave.
  • “He kept us absolutely totally protected from his friends – he trusted absolutely no one.”
  • “He changed phones like he changed underwear,” she told police.
  • The last number he had came up under the name ‘Ray Sanchez.’
  • “He never appreciated rules,” “didn’t have a firm grasp of cause and effect,” told police.
  • She didn’t know Sych was even in town prior to Feb. 6, 2008.
  • Sych had once asked Davis’s parents for $100 when he upped and left her with no money. She never asked again.
  • She was totally worried about the lifestyle Davis lived, was aware violence was sometimes involved.
  • She cannot recall Davis having a red Infiniti prior to his Jeep.
  • Was not aware that Davis had loaned the Infiniti to Tymchyshyn when he was in jail, as defence contends.
  • “He could be mean … to others. He wasn’t mean to me.”
  • At the Sunday dinner on Feb. 3, 2008, Davis didn’t mention Sych was back in town.

Sgt. Ralph Lucas, WPS forensic identification unit

  • Twenty-eight year veteran of the service, 12 years in ident.
  • Was assigned to Davis missing persons investigation on March 5, 2008, to examine Jeep. Reviewed prior reports.
  • Yes, there are things now he wished he had seized as part of the investigation.
  • 10:50 a.m. March 5, Jeep (1999 black Grand Cherokee) at PSB for exams. No exterior damage found.
  • An older am/fm unit inside the back, looked as if new stereo installed.
  • A “box speaker” in the back cargo area.
  • Also in cargo area: “little bits of black coiled plastic.” He thought likely related to installation of stereo.
  • Two packs of gum, CDs, vehicle registration and a “U-type” lock in glove box.
  • He taped for hair and fibre, swabbed areas for DNA and tested for blood. None found. Fingerprinted as well.
  • The bits of plastic were not seized, only a photograph of them remains.
  • Was not aware of any DNA results as a result of his work this day. He agrees the police procedure of testing for blood with “hemosticks” can result in false positives.

Charles Cruz

  • Automotive installer, had met Davis through the Canad Inns club scene and agreed to install a new system in his Jeep.
  • Thinks he worked on the vehicle – over a two day period – before Christmas 2007.
  • Says the Jeep had a factory stereo which he removed. He cut, not drilled a new bracket plate.
  • No plastic was drilled by him. It’s all metal, he said.
  • The subwoofer box was not drilled at all.
  • The small plastic shavings Lucas noted [shown picture] were not from any work he did.
  • He cannot remember if he did any vacuuming of the vehicle when he had it.

RCMP Cpl. Maria Forester, forensic analyst [second appearance]

  • At 3 p.m on July 28, 2008, she met with lead homicide investigator for RCMP, was given a speaker box and a box of cleaning supplies from the Jeep.
  • July 29, 2008: Did a white light exam of the Jeep, “particularly in the hatch area.”
  • Also did hair and fibre tapings, used forensic light source as a “followup,” was aware WPS went over the vehicle.
  • Tests for blood in the hatch area were negative.
  • Box of cleaning supplies: There was a bit of black plastic attached to a green cloth in the box, and a second bit found as well.
  • “They were very similar to the black coil found at the autopsy.”
  • Dec. 11, 2010: A reexamination of the vehicle to get measurements of the hatch. Was 100 cm across the top, 115 cm at the bottom and 78 cm high.
  • The barrel, she recounted, was 90 cm tall and 59 cm in diameter.
  • The barrel fits in the back. “Yes it does. If it’s lying down.”
  • Sept 19, 2012: Experiments done with a similar vehicle to see if barrel of similar kind and size fits.
  • That vehicle, however, has different wheel-well humps than Davis’s vehicle.
  • The interior of the hatch not measured.
  • The shavings WPS noticed and photographed were never on the RCMP homicide file.

Day 5: Stuart Davis

  • Chad Davis was his son.
  • “Chad would talk to me every day, every other day.”
  • They had very open and “very specific” communication.
  • He didn’t pry into Chad’s business out of a desire to not drive him away by making him angry.
  • He carried his cell with him at all times, Chad would call him anytime.
  • It would be “very abnormal” for the two not to talk.
  • “Not to my knowledge” would Chad take cabs.
  • “He took real pride in his possessions and his looks.”
  • Chad would not lend his things out.
  • Chad was “very leery” about his his friends, didn’t trust them.
  • He was aware of his having a red car before, it had been delivered to Stuart one day at his office, didn’t know by whom. This was the summer before his disappearance.
  • ⁃Chad came around all the time, every other weekend for Sunday dinners.
  • ⁃Chad always had a cellphone, a variety of names would come up on the call display.
  • While he didn’t see any activity directly, “I assume he dealt drugs.”
  • Chad had expensive tastes, including a $10,000 watch
  • In fall 2007, he knew Chad was in jail.
  • He went into his Hargrave St. apartment at the time to pack up his things – using boxes from his business to put smaller items in.
  • He took them to Dino’s Storage and rented a locker there using his own credit card.
  • Jan. 13, 2008: Chad was moving out of his Victor Lewis (Taylor?) apartment and used the same mover as Stuart had previously in the fall.
  • Chad brought furniture to their house. In the moving van, saw his projection and plasma TVs, along with boxes Stuart had given him to pack with.
  • His understanding is the truck was bound for Dino’s Storage, but couldn’t say for sure.
  • On this day, Chad gave him the key to the storage locker, but not an electronic passcode.
  • Feb. 3, 2008: Chad came for Sunday dinner. Was “pleasant” that day. Was to see his son the next day to take his Jeep (Stuart was its registered owner) to get an immobilizer installed.
  • They traded vehicles on the 4th of February, trade back.
  • Spoke to him on Feb. 5 – Chad called him. He wasn’t aware of any impending “big life change” for Chad.
  • Started to get worried the next couple of days when he didn’t hear from him.
  • By that Friday, his wife called police to see if they had any information.
  • He contacted Tymchyshyn’s mom on Feb. 12. He went to 703 Prince Rupert Ave., spoke with Tymchyshyn and was given the Jeep’s keys.
  • He drove the Jeep back to his business.
  • He looked inside it. There was a package of water bottles, a box with cleaning supplies.
  • He took the box out of the vehicle and stored it in an officer storage area. There are no plastics in that area or anything from which “plastic shavings” could be derived from.
  • “There’s no chance of anything coming from that end.” “We just used it for storage.”
  • All people at the business had access to the room. In the garage of the workplace, there’s no tools that could generate plastic shavings.
  • He was asked to bring the box – which he’d moved to his personal garage around summertime – to RCMP in July 2008.
  • “The Jeep was very clean.” He himself had noticed the plastic shavings inside after putting the seat down.
  • “It’s a black car, so anything black would be hard to pick out.”
  • He spoke with Courtney Sych who told him about the key to the storage locker in the Jeep. He didn’t find it.
  • He matched up the key he had to those in the vehicle. They didn’t match.
  • On Feb. 12, 2008 – had given key he had to locker to WPS.
  • On March 1, 2008 – he went to Tymchyshyn’s mom’s again. Led to a phone call from Tymchyshyn that day.
  • He wrote down the number Tymchyshyn called from.
  • They spoke of storage locker. Tymchyshyn said he had one at Dino’s, where he kept his stuff, his “coke,” but Chad didn’t have one there.
  • “He was claiming it was his locker, not Chad’s.” “He said Chad did not have a locker at Dino’s.”
  • March 5, 2008: WPS came to take car for missing persons investigation. Stuart said he didn’t clean it, wanting to “preserve it” for the police.
  • Police ultimately told him he could come and collect it. He asked what he should do with it. “You can do whatever you want with it,” he said he was told. “They were finished with it.”
  • July 28, 2008: RCMP want the Jeep. He also handed over the cleaning supplies that were inside.
  • He was aware Chad’s credit card statements came to his house. After Feb. 6, there was no activity on them.
  • Tymchyshyn’s cell number as of March 1 was 995-8224.
  • He identified a DVD player seized by RCMP in the homicide probe, along with two remote controls – one he said he bought Chad and programmed himself.
  • Through pictures he was shown, identified two TV sets as belonging to Chad.
  • When he first rented a storage locker at Dino’s in fall 2007, said he doesn’t remember if he had to supply a lock for the locker or not.
  • Yes, he kept conversations with Chad to “non-threatening topics” out of fear of losing relationship with him.
  • “To my knowledge,” Chad didn’t take cabs, but acknowledged that if he did in connection with his drug-activities, he wouldn’t know that.
  • He had trouble understanding why Chad and Courtney were together.
  • He had 8-9 numbers in his cellphone which Chad had used in the past.
  • “I did not spend a lot of time” going through Chad’s Jeep after picking it up.
  • He had only been in the Jeep once before – the day he took it to immobilizer appointment.
  • Couldn’t say how long Chad had the vehicle at that point.
  • Says no, he didn’t have eyes on the box in the storage room at all times.
  • There’s no reason why Davis couldn’t rent a locker on his own, he agreed.
  • He had no knowledge of the locker being Tymchyshyn’s since Jan. 31, 2007.
  • A red G35 Infiniti “rings a bell” for him.
  • He couldn’t say who had the red vehicle when Chad was in jail.
  • It could be that Chad’s friend RMG was the person who brought it to him at the office that day. From all he knows is someone had access to use it, possibly just to deliver it to Chad.
  • He had no impression of Tymchyshyn as “a thug” or was difficult to deal with.

Det. Sgt. Will Degroot, Winnipeg police organized crime unit

  • Winnipeg police for 15 years, variety of roles/assignments.
  • Feb. 13, 2008, had met with Davis’s parents to search for ways to further the missing persons investigation.
  • Stuart Davis gave him key to Dino’s Storage locker.
  • Wanted to go there to see if anything had been take to suggest Davis had moved.
  • Met with Michael Goulet, the manager there.
  • Found out from him that Davis had a locker there, but in Tymchyshyn’s name.
  • They walked over to it and Degroot allowed to look inside.
  • Used the key Stuart Davis gave him to unlock it.
  • Just odds and ends inside, nothing of apparent significance. “Just furniture and household items.”
  • Got a printout showing times when facility had been entered.
  • Knew of Tymchyshyn. Never got a call from him asking if he could clear out the locker, knew nothing of any such request.
  • Price of cocaine fluctuates on supply and demand.
  • In 2008, he said price was lower than today. A half-kilo would be about $18,000.
  • “The more you buy, the better the price.”
  • Could not speak to consumption, as in how much of the drug a person could consume over a period of time.
  • On Feb. 13, 2008, Degroot also contacted Blueline Taxi and Duffy’s. No record of dispatches. Other officers were looking into other cab companies.
  • He saw two mattresses, some stereo equipment and other belongings in the locker.

Michael Goulet

  • In 2008, was facility manager of Dino’s Storage on Orange Street, not far drive from Polo Park.
  • Most popular locker to rent is a 10×10 [100 sq. foot] space.
  • It’s a private locked facility.
  • The lockers have “roll-style” doors about 4 ft. wide, like a small garage door.
  • People drive onto property, there’s loading docks.
  • One has to key in a unique 5-digit passcode at one door to get in, then again just past that door to get inside the facility proper and access the lockers.
  • Photo ID is required to rent a locker. Each person is given own code only known to them unless they give it to someone else.
  • That means there’s multiple codes to open the same main doors.
  • The tenant is required to either buy a lock for the locker from Dino’s or bring their own.
  • The ones they sold then came with two keys.
  • Dec. 31, 2007. Davis and Tymchyshyn came in to rent a locker. It was for Davis, but he couldn’t rent it because he lacked ID.
  • Tymchyshyn rented it for him. He witnessed this.
  • He took photocopy of Tymchyshyn’s driver’s licence, identified it in court.
  • Was shown contract which he said he saw Tymchyshyn sign and initial.
  • Locker #339 was rented. A 10×10 space.
  • The security code to the electronic locks is on the lease agreement.
  • Both men knew the code.
  • Didn’t see them use the locker that day, but said “it’s a big building.”
  • Cameras watch over areas [not in lockers themselves]. They record 7 days and then loop back and record over the footage.
  • On Feb. 13, video of Feb. 6 was no longer available.
  • In March 2008, there was a “catastrophic” failure of the hard drive.
  • Some of the facility’s doors close automatically, some don’t.
  • When the electronic code is used for entry and exit, the computer records it, along with the time.
  • Records show on Jan. 20, 2008, Tymchyshyn’s name, passcode was used at door #3 at 2:20 p.m.
  • On Feb. 6, 2008, the code was used at 8:02 pm for entry at door number 3. At 8:13 and 8:14 pm code was used again for exit.
  • Then again on Feb. 12.
  • On the Feb. 6 occasion, it appeared one door didn’t close properly – may have been propped open – and triggered an internal-use-only alarm in the computer. It was resolved when door shut.
  • On Feb. 8, access was denied initially because the code wasn’t punched properly when only 4 of 5 numbers were punched.
  • On Feb. 12 at 11:25 a.m., the code was successfully used.
  • On Feb. 13, got visit from WPS officer who wanted to look in locker for missing persons investigation.
  • The police produced a key. It was just household items inside.
  • Feb. 22, Tymchyshyn showed up and he called police. “I told them that Corey was there emptying out the locker … was it Ok for the stuff to be removed.” “They told me yes, it was OK.”
  • Tymchyshyn was with another man, shorter, smaller build and maybe wearing glasses (ed note: Brincheski has been wearing glasses in court).
  • He only said hello, no other interactions with them.
  • on Sept. 4, 2008, he went to RCMP where he was shown random photos. “One I recognized,” he said. It was someone he saw at the facility in February.
  • He was about “70 per cent” it was the person. “Seven out of 10” was what he told RCMP.

The trial continues. 

Peter Laporte trial notebook: 1

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I could swear I saw pale-skinned, pony-tailed Peter Laporte look wistfully at his mother from the prisoner’s box.

She had just turned up in courtroom 120 to testify against him.

It was one of those bizarro moments in court proceedings you don’t fully expect.

I’m likely dead wrong, but from the half-second glimpse he gave the woman from across the sterile room as she came in, I thought the best word to describe his look was: ‘wistful.’

After all, it’s not like he didn’t know it was coming, what mom likely had to say.

Ms. Laporte’s testimony wasn’t forced, tearful or in anyway reluctant.

She was asked questions and she answered each in a forthright, plainspoken and clear way — largely without emotion.

She’d smile once in a while when the lawyers didn’t get something she previously said exactly right.

I’ve spent a number of hours now sitting in Laporte’s hearing.

Not all of his trial, but a good chunk of it.

I’ll glance over at him from time to time to watch how closely he’s paying attention, making extensive notes on yellow paper and consulting frequently with his defence lawyer, Crystal Antilla.

I’ve followed Laporte’s extensive legal saga at a court-ordered distance since Nov. 25-26, 2008, when I exclusively uncovered his case for the Winnipeg Free Press.

That’s 3.5 years now it’s taken to come to a bona fide public hearing, if anyone’s counting.

Laporte’s pleaded not guilty to a list of serious charges, including ones relating to the alleged aggravated sexual assault of an eight-year-old boy.

And from what I’ve heard so far, not one witness called by the Crown could place him at the scene of any of the crimes.

To the alleged victims, the attacks were random, committed by a total stranger to them.

So far, by my reading, it has all the hallmarks of a classic ‘identity case’ — where it’s unclear in fact or law if the right suspect is the one police charged with the crime.

That all appeared to change Thursday afternoon, when Laporte’s mom testified that it’s her son on surveillance footage from the two apartment blocks where the crimes took place.

While that fact alone doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, it does place Laporte at the scene, thus creating tough hurdles for his defence to overcome.

I mean, when you have your own mother say (essentially), ‘Hey, that’s my boy there’ on video guiding a kid into an apartment stairwell just moments before a serious sexual assault takes place, that can only definitively be called one thing at this point: problematic.

Nevertheless, Ms. Laporte’s testimony may all come to naught.

Antilla will argue strenuously to have the mom’s testimony struck from the record based on an as-yet unrevealed legal argument.

But what really struck me about Lucille Laporte’s evidence is how it was obtained by police.

Laporte has been in continuous remand custody since Nov. 23, 2008, the day the allegations arose.

But it wasn’t until summer 2010 that sex-crimes investigators asked two colleagues completely unconnected to the case to bring Laporte’s mom in at the behest of the Crown to watch a few edited clips of surveillance footage from two apartment blocks in hopes of cementing the accused’s identity.

The mom wasn’t told any reason why she was being asked to look at the footage.

She was only asked if she’d come in and watch it to see if she recognized anyone.

That meeting didn’t happen until Sept. 2, 2010.

The exchange was, unusually, videotaped in a PSB office at Sgt. Cheryl Larson’s desk.

The mom is shown clips from a Cumberland Avenue apartment-block lobby (her own building).

“My son, Peter Laporte,” she says after viewing the entire clip. “I recognized him as his face turned to profile.”

She’s shown more clips of the inside of human shapes shifting inside a Mac’s store adjacent to the building.

“I don’t want to make a guess,” she says, carefully. “I’d be guessing.”

She’s then shown the lobby surveillance from the separate building where the boy was attacked.

“And then there’s Peter again,” she tells Larson. “Peter Laporte, my son.”

Larson plays her another clip — again of the Mac’s store.

Lucille doesn’t want to guess.

“Body shape, I’d say that was Peter,” she says, but adds she can’t be sure.

She’s shown one more clip of the lobby of her own building, where she at the time had lived for more than a decade.

“That was my son, Peter,” she says. “Yeah. That’s Peter.”

She said much the same under direct examination from Crown attorney John Field, who played her the video of her with Sgt. Larson as corroboration.

Ms. Laporte also divulged a number of other background details about her son.

Locked in a custody fight for his young daughter, Laporte came to live at his mom’s place in and around September 2007.

Prior to that, he had been gone “a very long time,” she said, later adding the last time before then she saw him was 2001-02.

But something happened on Dec. 15, 2007, she said. She awoke on the 16th to find him gone.

“I phoned the Public Safety Building first,” she told Field and Justice Perry Schulman.

She was told her son was in custody.

After going to see him at the Winnipeg Remand Centre, she learned Laporte had been charged with attacking a woman in her building, she said.

Laporte’s version went something like this, according to her testimony:

He had been trying to help a woman who appeared, bloodied, at the building’s entranceway.

He let her in to use the phone in the apartment, but after coming upstairs with him, she changed her mind and produced a bottle of wine.

They wound up in the stairwell, but later moved to the laundry room and drank until they passed out.

The next day (Dec. 16 2007) police arrest him and charge him with attacking her.

He told me she had a bleeding nose, blood on her face,” Ms. Laporte told court. “He didn’t think (her injuries) were severe.”

Laporte said her son came home in November 2008, saying that “lab work” had “exonerated” him and the charges were dropped.

Court records show the charges were stayed about 10 days before the allegations Laporte is now involved in fighting came to light.

The trial continues.

An ominous number

Ivan Radocaj, left, in a dated picture. (The Great Canadian Talk Show Podcast)

When Rita Cushnie showed up at the RCMP detachment nearly four years ago and was interviewed in regards to the killing of John Radocaj, she had exactly $1.87 in her purse.

Over the four-year life of the criminal case, she reported to RCMP for bail management exactly 187 times, her lawyer, Mike Cook told Justice Colleen Suche last night.

It was a coincidence revealed just before Suche handed the 57-year-old a life sentence without parole for 25 years after a jury convicted her of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

One-Eight-Seven: The cold irony for Cushnie, I guess, exists in how those digits have also been co-opted by the gangster underworld as a kind of shorthand for the crime of murder.

The slang use stems from the California Penal Code, where capital murder with malice falls under section 187 (a).

Winnipeg has already woken up to the news that Cushnie, her (former?) friend Melody Sanford and her son, Donald Richard were found guilty of the brutal murder of the man once known as “The Croatian Giant” in the wrestler’s ring.

I’m told it’s been a number of years since Radocaj — a large man standing 6’ 8” — ever stepped into the fray. Since the late ‘80’s.

As it is with the media, the ‘ former pro wrestler’ angle became a kind of thin trope to familiarize the public with the case and try to keep their interest (mea culpa).

But at the end of the day, ‘Big John’s’ murder had nothing to do with the faded glare of the spotlight or past athletic acclaim.

Instead, what I can surmise is that Radocaj was just a man who was duped into possibly believing he could have a second chance at love with a woman he had known for years who clearly now hated him for some still-unknown reason.

That’s the story of this trial that largely went untold.

As always, the “why” is elusive when it comes to crime and trials. For prosecutors, the “why” is seldom a question worth delving into, because that’s not really the job. The “who,” “when” and “how” are all that’s needed to secure a conviction, it seems.

It’s probably safe to say Radocaj’s belief in redemption cost him his life in the most brutal way.

A life lost for the promise of a few (and I do mean but a few) bucks and a TV set.

His estranged wife, Sanford and Richard (The orchestrator and executioner) each had the insight to recognize early on that they were culpable in the man’s death.

Their lawyers even admitted as much in closing arguments where they each said in open court manslaughter convictions were probably a foregone conclusion.

In Cushnie’s case, however, she had the most to lose, and obviously felt she was sucked into to something that spun out of any sort of control she may have had over things.

From @deanatwpgsun’s story about the verdict coming down:

Cushnie appeared to break down prior to the jury entering the courtroom. Once the verdict was delivered and the jury had left the room, her tears turned to rage.

“Look what you did to me you little bastard,” Cushnie said while looking at her son as sheriff’s officers moved to handcuff her. “You’re dead to me.”

As the public were escorted out of the gallery and Cushnie was taken into custody for the first time since her arrest, her anxiety spilled over.

“No!” the elderly and frail-looking woman exclaimed, apparently in sheer fright as the female Sheriff approached with the handcuffs.

“Stop it,” the Sheriff barked back at her.

To her credit, Cushnie was the only one of the trio who addressed Radocaj’s grieving mother directly prior to being sentenced:

“I didn’t encourage him,” she said, an obvious reference to her son.

“I feel for you as a mother.”

If her conviction is ultimately upheld (I’d expect a swift appeal) she won’t be eligible for parole until age 82.

Other notes:

At least two jurors — one in particular — were visibly distraught as their decision was read by the foreman last night. By my count, all but two stayed for the sentencing portion and reading of the victim impact statements.

From behind the jury room door upon their exit, loud sobbing could be heard.

Justice Suche declined a request from the defence to poll the individual jurors as to the unanimity of their decision.

It’s in her discretion to do so, and she stated she had no reason to question the verdict.

The decision sparked a short exchange between her and John McAmmond (Richard’s lawyer), who seemed adamant to put the discomfort of the two jurors on the record.

Just moments before the jury portion of the trial got underway roughly two weeks ago, the defence rose to raise a point.

Radocaj’s mother had come to court wearing a photo of her son and either a shirt or a sign stating “Justice for Ivan.”

Suche ordered her to cover it up prior to the jury seeing it, deeming it prejudicial.

I point readers of this blog to this curious story I wrote regarding the case dating back to May 2009.

Even at that time, Sanford was ready to accept responsibility for the conspiracy, possibly explaining the resigned expression she wore during much of the trial that I was able to witness.

From what ever could tell, no abuse of process argument went forward from her lawyers, or it was done in the background.

But we’ll never know what piece of evidence came in that changed the Crown’s position to charge her with the actual killing more than a year after the conspiracy charge was laid.

There are two other accused in the case that have yet to deal with their charges.

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