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Jury hears testimony from undercover officer in Nadia Gonzales case

Officer spoke to Samanda Rose Ritch in the holding cells the day of her arrest in 2017

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caption The outside of the Law Courts, in Halifax, where Sparks and Ritch are on trial.
Kristin Gardiner

Samanda Rose Ritch denied stabbing “the girl in Dartmouth” but said she put her body in a bag, says an undercover police officer investigating the death of Nadia Gonzales.

The officer testified Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court at the jury trial of Ritch and Calvin Joel (CJ) Maynard Sparks. Ritch, 22, and Sparks, 26, are accused of stabbing Gonzales to death on June 16, 2017.

The officer was known in court only by her first name, Sherri. Due to the sensitivity of her work, there is a ban in place preventing publication of her surname.

Sherri described how Ritch was placed in a holding cell at police headquarters on Gottingen Street shortly before 10:40 p.m. on June 17, 2017. Sherri was placed in the cell next to her, allowing the two to have a conversation.

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Sherri said Ritch was quick to ask what Sherri was in for. Ritch gave Sherri no time to answer before admitting she was in for murder and attempted murder. Gonzales’ name was not brought up, but Ritch told Sherri, “it’s the girl in Dartmouth.”

Ritch told Sherri her ex was the one who stabbed the woman and she only helped put her body in the hockey bag she was found in. The “ex” was not identified in court.

Gonzales was stabbed around 37 times and her body was found in an apartment building at 33 Hastings Dr. in Dartmouth. John Patterson, 72, was found injured outside.

Sparks and Ritch are charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Sherri said she had a phone with her in the cell, for safety and note-taking purposes, but did not record the conversation with Ritch. During cross-examination by Ritch’s attorney, Peter Planetta, Sherri insisted she would “remember very vividly” the things Ritch was saying.

Sherri said Ritch told her they planned to put the body in the apartment building’s downstairs storage.

Sherri also testified that Ritch told her about a hole that was dug in an alley, and that the police were not aware of its existence at the time. Ritch did not tell Sherri who dug the hole or where it was dug. That conversation was interrupted by a routine check by the booking officers.

Sherri said that, after the officers left, Ritch mentioned a man who was injured that night. Sherri said Ritch told her: “I really hope that man doesn’t die.”

Sherri also testified that Ritch said she looked through the woman’s phone and found text messages to the police. “She was snitching hardcore,” Sherri said Ritch told her. Ritch did not mention if she read the messages before or after Gonzales died.

Sherri said Ritch told her the woman had stolen her ex’s money to buy drugs.

Sherri also said Ritch told her about a shotgun “in the crackhead’s apartment.” The police didn’t have it yet, she said, but they would, because he was snitching, too.

Earlier in court Tuesday, Marion Graves gave her account of June 15 and June 16, 2017. Graves, who lived at 33 Hastings Dr. with Wayne (Batman) Bruce, said she saw Sparks and Ritch in the building’s back stairwell the day Gonzales was killed and they had a black hockey bag with them.

Graves failed to return to court in the afternoon for cross-examination by Sparks’ attorney, Malcolm Jeffcock. Her testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday.

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About the author

Kristin Gardiner

Kristin is a Prince Edward Islander currently working in Halifax. Her journalistic interests lie in copy editing and longform features.

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