Courts

Garnier trial: Jury shown security footage of man towing a green bin

Christopher Garnier is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Catherine Campbell

Christopher Garnier leaves Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Thursday.   Lauren Hazlewood

The jury in the Christopher Garnier murder trial saw surveillance footage on Thursday taken from the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2015. The footage contained a key piece of evidence from the Crown in its case against Garnier.

The footage showed a barefoot man, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, wheeling a green compost bin towards 5713 McCully St. Minutes later, the man is shown again towing the same bin behind him, this time away from the residence and down Agricola Street before turning onto North Street.

The Crown alleges that the man in the video is Garnier.

Garnier is accused of killing Catherine Campbell. Campbell was reported missing on Sept. 14, 2015, after she failed to show up for work as a police officer in Truro. Her body was found in a wooded area near the Macdonald Bridge on Sept. 16, 2015.

Garnier, 29, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and improperly interfering with human remains. His trial began Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

On Thursday, Sgt. Charla Keddy, an RCMP member since 2001, was called as a witness. She was working with the Integrated Homicide Unit in September 2015 and was tasked with canvassing the area surrounding 5714 McCully St. As part of her canvassing, Keddy went to nearby businesses looking for surveillance footage that might show anything suspicious.

Keddy told the court an employee of SOMA Vein & Laser, located on the corner of Agricola and McCully streets, said they saw “something out of the ordinary” on their security tape footage from Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.

SOMA Vein & Laser had a security camera facing the back of their building which looked out onto a small parking lot and the back of 5713 McCully St., the residence that Garnier stayed at the night the footage was captured. The black and white footage, which was played for the jury, showed a man first walking out of the residence and crossing the screen at 4:28 a.m.

Shortly after 4:42 a.m. the cameras captured the man with the green compost bin. The clips show the man dragging the bin down Agricola Street after finding it nearby. During this process, a second security camera captured the same man as he wheeled the bin farther down the street. He appeared to throw an item out of his hand and on to the roof of Fred’s, a nearby establishment.

The security footage from that night also captured a white object in the top corner of the screen near the McCully Street unit. Keddy identified this object as being a mattress. At 5:35 a.m. a man can be seen carrying the item away from the residence and out of the frame. The man was using a hand-held light source which illuminated the object.

During the movement of the green compost bin and the mattress, the man in the footage appeared to struggle getting the objects over a piece of wood in the parking lot.

Crown witness Jacqueline MacNeil, clinic manager at SOMA Vein & Laser, confirmed that this piece of wood had been moved from its normal position. The wood, which was used to divide the parking lot from the backyard of the McCully Street property, was blocking her usual parking spot when she arrived at work on Sept. 11, 2015.

The jury also saw surveillance footage of the cab that drove Campbell and Garnier from the Halifax Ale House, where they met, to 5713 McCulley St. that night.

Simon Zekarias, the Yellow Cab driver who drove them, told the court he could sense “some tension” between the two in the back seat.

When asked to clarify by defence attorney Joel Pink, Zekarias said that Garnier and Campbell were very quiet and weren’t really talking.

Zekarias said he could smell alcohol on Garnier, but the two did not seem intoxicated.

Forensic photos

Another Crown witness, Det. Const. Marshall Hewitt, told the court he “made observations of what appeared to be blood” at the McCully Street residence on Sept. 15, 2015, after he and his partner were asked to process the scene. Hewitt took photos of the unit, which belonged to Garnier’s friend Mitchell Devoe, and placed markers on areas that he thought contained blood splatters.

In a book of photographs shown to the jury, Hewitt pointed out what could be blood in a number of areas including on a television set, speaker and the wheel of a vacuum cleaner.

The droplets that were photographed were not confirmed to be blood.

Court is expected to reconvene on Monday.