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Defence questions credibility of key Crown witness in Nadia Gonzales death

Lawyer notes inconsistencies in testimony, poor eyesight as murder trial continues

2 min read
caption Calvin Sparks and Samanda Ritch's trial continued Tuesday in Courtroom 304.
Abigail Trevino

The lawyer of a woman accused of murder questioned what a Crown witness says he saw the day Nadia Gonzales died.

The trial of Calvin (CJ) Joel Maynard Sparks and Samanda Rose Ritch continued Tuesday with the cross-examination of John Patterson, who was there the day Gonzales, 35, died in June 2017.

Sparks 26, and Ritch, 22, are charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Peter Planetta, Ritch’s defence lawyer, repeatedly questioned Patterson’s credibility as a witness. He noted several contradictions in his testimony, along with his history of drug use, criminal record and poor eyesight.

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Patterson, 72, had previously testified that Sparks stabbed him six times and stabbed Gonzales repeatedly.

Planetta questioned Patterson about his memory of what happened. On Friday, Patterson told the jury he smoked “a puff” of crack early in the morning, but on Tuesday he said he smoked it around noon. In both instances, he insisted he did not consume enough of the narcotic to impair his memory.

Planetta brought up Patterson’s numerous theft convictions, all of which Patterson said he did to support his crack addiction. Planetta pointed out that smoking crack was a violation of his parole.

Planetta also suggested Patterson’s vision problems limited his ability to identify the alleged killers. Patterson testified Thursday that his glasses were knocked off when he was stabbed, allegedly by Sparks.

Planetta demonstrated Patterson’s short-sightedness for the jury by asking Patterson to remove his glasses, and then asked him to identify an object from different distances. Patterson eventually identified it correctly as a smartphone when it was a few feet away.

When asked by Planetta when exactly during the altercation his glasses were knocked off, Patterson said: “I think CJ can tell you better.”

Gonzales was found dead in the stairwell of an apartment in Dartmouth at 33 Hastings Drive in the evening of June 16, 2017. The Hammonds Plains woman was stabbed 37 times and then zipped into a black hockey bag.

Patterson’s cross-examination by both Planetta and Malcolm Jeffcock, Spark’s lawyer, continues Wednesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

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About the author

Abigail Trevino

Abigail is a fourth year journalism student at the University of King's College. She is also the publisher of The Watch, the university's campus...

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