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Trial of Sparks and Ritch wrapping up next week

Jury hears final testimony Wednesday about the night Nadia Gonzales died

2 min read
caption The trial of Calvin J. Maynard Sparks and Samanda Rose Ritch, accused of killing Nadia Gonzales, continues to Week 6.
Karla Renic

The jury heard the final witness testimony Wednesday in the murder trial of Samanda Rose Ritch and Calvin Joel (CJ) Maynard Sparks. Closing arguments are set to begin next week.

Ritch, 22, and Sparks, 26, are accused of stabbing Nadia Gonzales to death and injuring a man two years ago.

The trial is adjourned until Tuesday when the lawyers will present their closing arguments. Justice Christa Brothers will then give her final instructions to the jury.

Gonzales, 35, was stabbed around 37 times. Her body was found in a black hockey bag in a stairwell of a Dartmouth apartment building on June 16, 2017. John Patterson, 72, was found injured outside near the building at 33 Hastings Dr. He had six stab wounds.

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Sparks and Ritch were arrested separately the next day.

The Crown called its last witness Wednesday morning. Marion Graves, 48, lived in Apt. 16 with Wayne Bruce, known as Batman, for two weeks up to Gonzales’ death.

Her cross-examination began Monday, and halfway through her Tuesday testimony she failed to return to the courtroom. Wednesday, Graves testified that she was not home when Gonzales died. She said when she first heard a woman had been killed, she thought it was Ritch.

Defence lawyers Peter Planetta and Malcolm Jeffcock did not call any witnesses or present evidence.

Witness roster

The trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court began on Nov. 2. In the last five weeks, the Crown called 39 witnesses to testify.

Nineteen officers testified, including Const. Dave Smith who found Gonzales’ body. Smith arrested Sparks the next morning and testified that Sparks’ hands were soaked in what he thought to be blood.

Bruce, one of the Crown’s key witnesses, testified for two and a half days in the trial. He said he was with Sparks and Ritch in his apartment, smoking crack cocaine, just before Gonzales’ death. Bruce admitted to lying to police in previous statements about that night.

Patterson, who was injured the night Gonzales died, testified that Sparks stabbed him and Gonzales. He said Sparks had told him about plans to “chop her up and put her in a garbage bag.” His testimony lasted four and a half days.

On Nov. 27, Shannen Fahie, the store manager of Bargain Basket, said that Ritch had bought rubbing alcohol, benzoyl peroxide, gauze, bandages and a pair of pink leggings about an hour after Gonzales was killed. The jury also saw a surveillance video.

Joseph Fowler testified Nov. 29 that he would help Gonzales with her drug deals and would often spend time with Sparks. He first said in court that Sparks and Gonzales were friends, but then changed his testimony that they had issues.

Fowler said he did not remember the specifics of his statement to police. The next day, he said he did remember the statement and believed it to be true.

Earlier this week, an undercover police officer who was placed in a holding cell next to Ritch on June 17, 2017, said Ritch admitted to putting a woman in a bag but not stabbing her.

The jury also heard from three residents of the building, two people who lived near the apartment building, Ritch’s twin brother, the province’s chief medical examiner, Sparks’ and Gonzales’ mutual acquaintance Monika D’Entremont, and the security risk manager of Nova Central Correctional Facility.

A murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence.

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About the author

Karla Renic

Karla Renic is a multimedia journalist in her fourth year at the University of King's College. She freelances and works as the news editor at...

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