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DNA specialist testifies in Garnier trial

Christopher Garnier has pleaded not guilty in death of Catherine Campbell

4 min read
Celie Deagle
caption Christopher Calvin Garnier and girlfriend Brittany Francis enter the courtroom Tuesday.
Celie Deagle

Catherine Campbell’s blood was found in the apartment where the Crown alleges she was murdered, a DNA expert testified Tuesday, as the trial of Christopher Calvin Garnier continued at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

RCMP DNA specialist Dr. Gregory Litzenberger told the jury Campbell’s blood was found on the television, stereo speaker, cabinet and floor of 5714 McCully St. in Halifax.

Garnier, 30, has been charged with second degree murder and improper interference with human remains in the 2015 death of Campbell, 36. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Litzenberger also testified that two blood stains on the T-shirt recovered from a dumpster outside of the apartment matched Campbell’s DNA profile.

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caption A T-shirt stained with Campbell’s blood was found in the dumpster outside 5714 McCully St.
Screengrab of Court Exhibit

He said no blood, hair or semen was found on Campbell’s underwear, which was also recovered from the dumpster. A vaginal swab was also analyzed, but presented no evidence of semen, he said.

Litzenberger told the court blood was found on fingernail clippings taken during Campbell’s autopsy. DNA testing revealed some of the blood was Campbell’s, but other clippings showed a mixture of DNA from both Campbell and Garnier.

Campbell’s body was found under the Macdonald Bridge in Halifax on Sept. 16, 2015. The Crown alleges that Garnier strangled Campbell in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015, and used a compost bin to transport her body from the McCully Street apartment.

The jury also heard from Sgt. Adrian Butler, a bloodstain pattern analyst with the RCMP.

caption Butler testified that splatter patterns indicated the use of some force.
Screengrab of Court Exhibit

Butler testified that the spatter pattern of blood found on the speaker suggests droplets flew through the air with some force. Butler also said he found a minimum of 26 spatter stains on one section of the floor and another six spatter stains in the hallway of the apartment.

Garnier’s lawyer, Joel Pink, questioned Butler about the blood found in the apartment. Butler said he only found evidence of spatter and transfer stains, and no evidence of an attempt to clean up the blood. Butler also agreed with Pink that there wasn’t much blood was found in the apartment.

Computer searched

The jury also heard testimony from Blair MacLellan, an expert on digital forensics and the collection of data from devices. MacLellan said that he analyzed an iMac with a user named Garnier.

He said he found no evidence of searches related to Catherine Campbell, but did find searches about the side-effects of the antidepressant Cipralex Garnier has admitted to taking.

caption Garnier was photographed by police after his arrest on Sept. 16, 2015.
Screengrab of court exhibit

Near the end of the day, the jury resumed watching footage of an interview between Cpl. Joseph Allison and Garnier from Sept. 16, 2015. On Monday, the jury watched over two hours of footage from the same nearly 10-hour tape.

Allison questioned Garnier in the video, repeatedly asking him, “what happened in that apartment?”

At times Allison became more insistent, hitting the table between the two of them. He asked if Garnier understood the amount of evidence against him.

“You can’t explain it away; I know you killed her,” Allison said at one point in the video.

Garnier did not say much during the footage played Tuesday, repeating that he had been advised not to speak.  

The trial resumes Wednesday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. It is expected to run until Dec. 21.

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