Witnesses heard noises, banging the night of Nadia Gonzales’ death
2 others say they saw people wearing dark hoodies that night
November 15, 2019, 8:30 am ASTLast Updated: November 15, 2019, 8:30 am
Witnesses say they heard banging in the Dartmouth apartment building where Nadia Gonzales was found dead in June 2017.
Thursday, seven Crown witnesses testified in the jury trial of Calvin Joel (CJ) Sparks, 26, and Samanda Rose Ritch, 22. Sparks and Ritch are accused of murdering Gonzales, 35, of Hammonds Plains.
Her body was found June 16, 2017, in an apartment building at 33 Hastings Drive. She had been stabbed 37 times and placed in a hockey bag. John Patterson was stabbed six times but survived.
Sparks and Ritch have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Three witnesses, residents of the apartment building, described noises and banging near apartment 16, where Patterson, a key Crown witness, has said Gonzales was stabbed to death.
Stephanie Carpenter said she went downstairs to let her friend into the building at around 7:30 p.m. that evening. As she opened the door, two men and one woman walked through. Carpenter and her friend walked behind the three people as they made their way upstairs, all heading to the third floor.
Once at her apartment door, Carpenter heard loud noises, what she said sounded like “roughhousing,” coming from down the hallway. She couldn’t see what was happening because of a stairwell door separating her apartment from the scene.
Her husband, Stephen Billard, testified that he quickly called her and her friend into their apartment and closed the door, not wanting to get involved with what he assumed was a fight.
Billard said he looked through his door’s peephole a few moments later to see an older man with grey hair going down the stairwell. “He looked like he had a purpose; he looked like he wanted to get out of there,” Billard said.
Both Carpenter and Billard described a number of people regularly moving through apartment 16.
Another witness, Richard Gero, said he called the building’s superintendent because of a noise he heard upstairs. He lived directly below apartment 16. He said he heard a “crashing” noise coming from the apartment above him between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Gero said as he and the superintendent went to investigate the noise, he looked through a small window in the door that led to the landing of the third floor and saw a black hockey bag. He also saw two pairs of feet standing near the bag, but couldn’t make out details.
The jury also heard from two people who live near the apartment building, Charles Bezanson and Charlotte Hacquoil. They both said they saw two people wearing dark coloured hoodies running by their properties close to 8 p.m.
Hacquoil said while both people were average build, a difference in their heights was “very noticeable.” Neither witness could identify the race or gender of the runners.
Two police officers also testified Thursday. Const. Dave Smith was part of the team sent to investigate the scene at 33 Hastings Drive. When he entered the building, he followed what he described as a “blood trail” to apartment 15 and 16. He found blood smeared on both apartment doors.
Smith said he looked through the stairwell door to see a black hockey bag on the landing and noticed hair poking out from the bag and some blood. Soon after, Wayne Bruce, 60, left apartment 16 and Smith arrested him.
Later that night and into the morning, Smith was sent to visit a list of places that the police had determined as key locations to investigate. He arrived at 3345 Federal Ave. in Halifax at around 4:55 a.m., where a team of police officers were already present.
Smith said at around 8:48 a.m. he noticed white basketball sneakers on the steps of 3343 Federal Ave. He saw a man and determined that it was Calvin Sparks, based on the photos he had been shown by police that evening. Smith said the man’s hands were bandaged and soaked in what he thought to be blood. Smith arrested him.
Earlier in the day, the examination of John Patterson came to an end with the Crown’s redirect examination. Patterson had been on the stand for much of the last four days.
Wednesday, he told the jury that he thought two men, Frankie Tynes and Jacob Sparks, were upset with Gonzales’ success in the drug dealing business. Patterson said he had disagreements with Tynes and Jacob Sparks in the past because of their “wanting to be in control” of him and Gonzales.
The trial, presided over by Justice Christa Brothers, is scheduled to last 19 days in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
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