February 09, 2019

Blood found at clubhouse, murder trial told in St. John's

Jurors at Allan Potter's trial shown knife, autopsy photos

(photo gallery (link is external)) --- A hand. An arm still bearing a hospital bracelet. A toe tag. A shoulder with a recognizable tattoo.

It wasn't easy stuff for family members of Dale Porter to see in Supreme Court Wednesday. The contents of his jeans pocket. A blue Helly Hansen jacket, cut by paramedics' scissors. A black T-shirt full of holes, worn the night Porter was fatally stabbed.

Porter's loved ones were emotional, dabbing their eyes with tissues and comforting each other as photos from his autopsy were presented, but they did not leave the courtroom, determined to see to the end the trial of one of the men accused of his murder.

Allan Potter, 55, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Porter - a 39-year-old fisherman and father of two - and leaving him in his North River driveway in the early morning hours of June 29, 2014. The motive for the murder, according to the Crown, was revenge for Porter having disrespected members of the Vikings biker club in a bar hours earlier by making fun of them, spitting on their vests, and hitting on the girlfriend of a senior member.

A second man, whose name is banned from publication for now, has also been charged with Porter's murder and will go to trial at a later date.
"From my experience as a forensic investigator, I know that in situations where there's a lot of blood-letting, it's very hard to contain the blood. I had been present at Mr. Porter's autopsy and I knew his manner of death. I knew there would have been a lot of blood." — RCMP Cpl. Kelly Lee
RCMP Cpl. Kelly Lee, a forensic identification specialist, took the stand Thursday morning, and reviewed photos she had taken as she assisted at Porter's autopsy in the days following his death.

Lee pointed out numerous wounds on Porter's back, shoulders, arms, hands, and neck, most of them identical punctures.

Under questioning by Crown prosecutor Erin Matthews, Lee listed the samples and items taken during the autopsy, including the clothes Porter had been wearing at the time of his death.

Lee also showed the jurors a rectangular cardboard box, then opened it and took out a foldable knife, decorated with a blue stone and an inlaid image of an eagle. The blade, which measured a little under 1.5 inches at its widest part, glinted as Lee demonstrated how the folding mechanism worked.

The police officer said she had been told by other investigators the knife had been found in a stream.
Though fingerprints can remain viable on certain objects in water, none were retrieved from the knife, she explained, and it was then boxed and sent to the RCMP's national forensic lab for DNA testing.
"We've been told through disclosure that the knife was found by a civilian who took it to police and was told to put it back in the stream. Do you have any knowledge of that?" defence lawyer Randy Piercey asked Lee upon cross-examination.

She said she didn't.
Lee told the court she had also been in charge of a search at the Vikings Motorcycle Club headquarters in Cupids a week after Porter's death, explaining the clubhouse appeared to be a
The Vikings club house. - SaltWire Network
The Vikings clubhouse. - SaltWire Network
converted old gas station with a banner on the outside, identifying it as belonging to the Vikings. The windows of the building were blacked out, she said, and the interior was essentially an open space containing a bar, a pool table, some seating and a couple of motorcycles.
"I was instructed to look in particular for blood that may have transferred," Lee said, since investigators believed Porter's killers might have travelled from the crime scene to the clubhouse. "From my experience as a forensic investigator, I know that in situations where there's a lot of blood-letting, it's very hard to contain the blood. I had been present at Mr. Porter's autopsy and I knew his manner of death. I knew there would have been a lot of blood."

Traces of blood were found on a doorknob, the door lock, the inside lower part of the door, on the outside of a garbage bin and on a bottle of Spray Nine, Lee testified.

Also seized were Vikings colours - leather vests with the club's patches on them - as well as a Bic lighter that had been located in a duffel bag behind a furnace and found to contain traces of blood. RCMP Const. Michael Nippard, who was the evidence custodian during the investigation into Porter's death, showed the lighter and one of the vests to the court, and explained the chain of custody of all pieces of evidence seized during the murder investigation.

Piercey questioned Lee about the week that had passed between Porter's death and the search of the clubhouse, and the effect such a delay could have when it comes to retrieving evidence in general.

RCMP Const. Michael Nippard, who served as evidence custodian during the police investigation into the murder of Dale Porter, shows a plastic evidence bag containing Vikings Motorcycle Club colours: a leather vest with Vikings patches, seized from the Vikings clubhouse in Cupids.
RCMP Const. Michael Nippard, who served as evidence custodian during the police investigation into the murder of Dale Porter, shows a plastic evidence bag containing Vikings Motorcycle Club colours: a leather vest with Vikings patches, seized from the Vikings clubhouse in Cupids.

Lee said although it isn't an ideal situation, especially if the site is in use with people coming and going and objects possibly being moved, useful evidence could still be collected.



Piercey also asked Lee about a white powder and a rolled-up $5 bill seen in one of the photos taken inside the club. Lee said she had not identified the powder as part of her mandate.

Earlier in the day, another forensic identification specialist, RCMP Sgt. Michael Wyllie, wrapped up the testimony he had begun on Wednesday. Wyllie described how he had examined a Birch Hills Taxi van for evidence and had taken a number of swabs from red stains on the vehicle's interior that had tested positive for blood. He said he sent them to the lab for DNA analysis.

On cross-examination, Piercey questioned Wyllie about his focus on certain items in photos and a video he had taken at Porter's residence. Piercey showed the police officer a still image of Porter's kitchen table, taken from the video.

Beer bottles, a mostly empty flask of rum, a two-litre bottle of Pepsi and a cigarette package were visible in the photo, along with other items, which Piercey alleged were marijuana and two syringes.

Wyllie said he couldn't tell from the photo if they were syringes, and he had not made any note of syringes at the time. He hadn't collected the items as evidence since it was outside of his mandate for the murder investigation. However, two bags of white powder and a set of scales that had been found on Porter's kitchen counter were seized by other investigators, he said.
"If it were a drug investigation and you were sent to a drug dealer's house, would it have been part of your mandate (to seize the alleged syringes and marijuana)?" Piercey asked.
"Absolutely," Wyllie replied.

Potter's trial is expected to continue this morning with testimony from an Ottawa-based DNA expert who was involved in the examination of evidence collected during the murder investigation.


Canada - BNN.



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