The jury for an ongoing murder trial heard conflicting testimony from one of the men who drove Nadia Gonzales around for her drug deals.
Joseph Fowler, 21, spent much of the day Thursday on the stand at the trial of Calvin Joel (CJ) Maynard Sparks, 26, and Samanda Rose Ritch, 22.
The two were arrested on June 17, 2017, the day after Gonzales, 35, was found dead in a hockey bag at 33 Hastings Dr. in Dartmouth. She had been stabbed 37 times.
They are charged with first-degree murder and are also facing a charge of attempted murder in the stabbing of John Patterson, 72, who was found injured.
Fowler started his testimony in Nova Scotia Supreme Court by telling the jury about his relationship with Sparks and Gonzales.
He said he had met Gonzales in early 2017 through his stepfather. Fowler would help her with her drug deals by driving her around in various rental cars, including her Silver Honda Accord, from midnight to 6 a.m. He said they typically made 15 to 20 stops.
Fowler said he met Sparks through Gonzales a couple of weeks before her death. He said he would regularly hang out with Sparks, often driving around and smoking cannabis.
At first, Fowler referred to Gonzales and Sparks as “friends,” and said he had seen them together five or six times in 2017. Later in his testimony, Fowler told the jury that he had noticed there were “issues” between Gonzales and Sparks.
“They were both being shady to each other,” he told the jury.
“They were both always plotting on each other, right? They both talked shit about each other behind each other’s backs.”
Crown lawyer Rob Kennedy asked Fowler if Sparks had expressed his feelings towards Gonzales. Fowler said he could not recall the specifics, but felt that “he just didn’t trust her.”
Fowler said he tried to warn Gonzales in the weeks leading up to her death that she needed to be more careful. He said he had told her that people were jealous of her business and someone might hurt her. He also said that he went through her phone and saw that she had been in contact with police.
Fowler told the jury that Sparks would often hang out at his house in Clayton Park. Once, he said, Gonzales confronted him via text message about seeing Sparks’ car at Fowler’s townhouse. He testified that Sparks would frequently ask him about his text conversations with Gonzales, and he would often “act stupid” to not get involved in their business.
The Crown also asked Fowler about his second statement to police, made on Sept. 28, 2018. Fowler said he did not remember making the statement because it had been made a while ago and that he had been high most of the time.
“I’m high as fuck right now,” said Fowler. “I had nothing to do with it. I don’t understand why you guys keep bringing me out.”
The jury also heard three phone calls between Sparks and Fowler from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility on June 24 and 27, 2017. In the calls, Sparks is heard telling Fowler not to talk to the police. He also told Fowler to get a new cell phone and destroy a SIM card.
Fowler told the jury he did not destroy the SIM card but had broken his phone in a separate incident.
Fowler’s testimony changed after the lunch break where he kept his answers short and replied “I don’t recall,” to most of the Crown’s questions.
A shared phone
The jury also heard the cross-examination of Monika D’Entremont.
D’Entremont testified that she had known Gonzales for almost two years primarily through drug transactions. She also met Sparks in 2017 and shared her Huawei cellphone with him. She told the jury that it was not unusual for Sparks to have the phone for extended periods of time.
During her cross-examination by Sparks’ lawyer, Malcolm Jeffcock, she testified that she had been with Sparks the night before Gonzales’ death. She also said that he had been using the cellphone to text but could not tell the jury who Sparks was texting.
Thursday afternoon, Justice Christa Brothers dismissed a juror for issues unrelated to the case. The jury is now composed of four women and eight men. The trial will continue Friday with the cross-examination of Fowler.
About the author
Marianne is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She calls Sherbrooke, Quebec, home. When she is not reporting, she is either...