Two one-hour videos of witness testimony from 2017 were entered into evidence as part of the Marrissa Bird murder trial at the Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday.
The videos were the trial’s focal point over the last two days, and included witness statements identifying Bird as one of several people at a meeting Duane Brett Ledoux attended before he was found dead a few days later.
Defence arguments focused on police procedure during the interviews. The witness testified on Friday that they were not told they could contact a lawyer before talking to investigators, and that they would not have to appear in court if they made a statement. The witness had been detained by police prior to both interviews.
Defence lawyer Patrick McDougall argued that police had a responsibility to let the witness know they could call a lawyer before giving a statement.
“If you’ve never had the proper process, then how can we as justice system let this happen,” he said. “It’s a dangerous precedent.”
Crown prosecutor Shawn Blackman argued that the issue was not relevant, since the statements were given voluntarily.
“Speaking to a lawyer is never a bad thing, but it’s not a necessary thing,” he said.
The witness appeared in court Friday morning and said they stood by their testimony from 2017. Madame Justice Heather MacMillan-Brown said that was enough to satisfy her concerns, and allowed the interviews to be included as evidence.
The defence briefly cross-examined the witness Friday afternoon, with most of the questions focusing on the timeline leading up to Ledoux’s death.
An interim publication ban is in place until Monday, which prevents the Daily Herald from identifying all non-police witnesses.
Proceedings began nearly one hour later than usual on Friday, but otherwise there were no difficulties in resuming the trial. MacMillan-Brown ended the afternoon session early on Thursday after a witness vomited while on the witness stand.
Health Canada lists vomiting as one of several potential COVID-19 symptoms, and court protocols required staff to “deep clean” the court room before the trial could resume.
The witness later returned to the stand after receiving a checkup from a healthcare professional, who said there were no other COVID symptoms.
Bird faces first degree murder charges in connection with Ledoux’s death. Three other people have already pleaded guilty to various charges for their role in the killing.
The trial resumes on Monday, Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Court of Queen’s Bench.