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Sparks and Ritch waited for Nadia Gonzales, jury hears

Murder trial continues in Halifax in Nova Scotia Supreme Court

3 min read
caption The trial of Calvin Sparks and Samanda Ritch continues in Courtroom 304.
Dominique Amit

The two people accused of murdering Nadia Gonzales were both holding knives when they walked out of a Dartmouth apartment, a jury heard Wednesday.

Wayne (Batman) Bruce testified in Nova Scotia Supreme Court at the trial of Calvin (CJ) Joel Maynard Sparks, 26, and Samanda Rose Ritch, 22. They are both charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Bruce lived in Apt. 16 at 33 Hastings Dr. on June 16, 2017. Gonzales was found stabbed in a hockey bag in a stairwell of the building that night. John Patterson, 72, was found injured outside.

Bruce, 63, said Sparks and Ritch entered his bedroom and came back out with knives.

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“CJ was holding an orange-handled knife in his right hand,” said Bruce.

“He told me to go to the bedroom and I heard him say, ‘I’ll get John, you get her’ to Samanda.”

An orange-handled knife was found outside the building by police the night Gonzales died.

Bruce’s testimony comes two weeks into the trial. The whole afternoon was focused on his testimony.

He said that he’d known Gonzales for about three or four months because she dealt him crack cocaine and that he’d bought from her 100 to 150 times.

Bruce said that he’d known Calvin Sparks for a few years and that Sparks also dealt crack cocaine. He testified that Sparks and Gonzales had been at his apartment together about 20 times.

He said that the morning of June 16, 2017, he and his friend John Patterson had been smoking crack and then went to the food bank. After returning to the apartment, Patterson left and two of Bruce’s buddies came over to smoke crack.

Bruce testified that Ritch knocked on his door, told him “CJ” was there, and to clear the apartment, and so his two friends left. He said he didn’t know who Ritch was at the time.

Bruce said Sparks arrived carrying a black hockey bag, which he put in Bruce’s bedroom.

Bruce said he smoked crack while playing cards with Sparks and that Ritch fixed his phone. He said Sparks kept asking when Nadia Gonzales was coming back. A few hours later, Bruce got a text saying that Nadia would be there in eight minutes.

Bruce said when Sparks saw the text, he got up and went to the window that faces Hastings Drive. About eight minutes later, Bruce said he heard Sparks say “they’re here’ and both Sparks and Ritch went to the door.

Bruce then said he heard his apartment door open, and he waited in his bedroom until he heard it close. When he came out both Ritch and Sparks were gone but the bag was still there. He said he opened the door, threw the bag out into the hallway and closed the door and locked it.

Bruce also testified that he had written a text to Nadia Gonzales that said “do not come” but didn’t send it as Sparks was still in the apartment. Much later he texted Gonzales asking if she was OK.

Bruce said later he got a phone call from the building’s superintendent Ivan Simmonds. Bruce said when he opened the door for Simmonds there was blood everywhere, he spoke to Simmonds for a minute and then went back into his apartment.

The next time he left the apartment, he was met by a police officer and placed under arrest. He was released about an hour later.


Peter Planetta, Ritch’s defence lawyer, began his cross-examination of Bruce by bringing up the charge against Bruce for the murder of Nadia Gonzales. Bruce was charged with first-degree murder in August 2017 and held in custody for eight months before the charge was eventually dropped.

Planetta then asked if all four of the statements Bruce made to the police were true. Bruce said “no.” He then asked Bruce why it was never mentioned in any other statements that Samanda Ritch had fixed his phone for him. Bruce said he never remembered the detail before.

Planetta then repeatedly questioned Bruce about the text message he wrote to Gonzales saying not to come. He asked if Bruce had deleted the message. Bruce said he wasn’t sure.

Then he asked Bruce if he recalled saying in a police statement that the message was still on his phone six days later. Bruce said yes.

When Planetta pointed out that Bruce had texted Gonzales asking if she was OK that same night, so the draft text would have been deleted, Bruce said that his recollection was wrong.

Justice Christa Brothers is presiding over the trial. Bruce’s cross-examination by defence will continue Thursday.

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About the author

Dominique Amit

Dominique Amit is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She hails from Stellarton, Nova Scotia. She's interested in politics...

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