Nadia Gonzales was stabbed 37 times, jury hears

Trial of the man and woman charged with first-degree murder is underway in Halifax

A Crown prosecutor told a Halifax jury Wednesday that Hammonds Plains mother Nadia Gonzales suffered 37 stab wounds and her body was discovered stuffed inside a hockey bag.

Wednesday marked the official start of the trial of the two people accused of murdering her.

Gonzales was found on June 16, 2017, when police responded to a call at a building on Hastings Drive in Dartmouth. She was pronounced dead at the scene. John Patterson was found outside the building in critical condition.

Calvin Joel Maynard Sparks, 26, and Samanda Rose Ritch, 22, have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Crown prosecutor Steve Degen used his opening statement to lay out evidence the Crown would use in its case against Sparks and Ritch.

Degen told the jury that Sparks’ DNA was found all over the crime scene, including the hockey bag, the blood on the floor near the bag, the sweater Gonzales was wearing, and a knife that police found near the building.

Degen said John Patterson, who was stabbed but survived, will testify later in the trial that Sparks was the person who attacked him.

The defence lawyer for Sparks, Malcolm Jeffcock, said there’s much more to the story than the Crown makes it out to seem.

Jeffcock said Gonzales was a known drug dealer and that Sparks was involved with her in selling drugs. He suggested there may have been a prior conflict between Gonzales and Sparks relating to police busting their illicit drug business.

He told the jury: “You’ll hear a lot in this case about who is a police informant.”

Jeffcock said Gonzales used John Patterson as a form of security during her drug deals around the Halifax Regional Municipality. Jeffcock mentioned that Patterson’s testimony has changed many times and it therefore might not be trustworthy.

Ritch’s defence lawyer, Peter Planetta, kept his opening statement brief. He said most evidence the jury would see didn’t involve his client.

After the jury heard opening statements, the Crown called two witnesses.

Ryan Vessey was walking by the building on Hastings Street the night Gonzales was found. He said he noticed an injured man outside and called 911. This man was John Patterson.

Darrell Bardua, the paramedic who responded to the call, described seeing a hockey bag on a landing inside the building. He said he noticed matted and bloodied hair sticking through a little opening where the zipper had not been zipped up all the way. When he opened the bag, he found Nadia Gonzales’ body folded up inside.

He checked her vitals and pronounced her dead at the scene. He said his glasses fogged up while inspecting Gonzales’ body, which he took to mean she had recently died.

The trial continues Thursday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court with further testimony from Bardua.

Simon Miller

Simon is a journalism student in the one-year program at the University of King's College. His educational background is in politics and economics, but he's also passionate about sports.

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