Laurie Bell was talking about kicking her drug habit and settling down with Robert Sand in Red Deer just days before an RCMP officer was shot two provinces away, her sister testified at her murder trial Tuesday.

Bell and Sand visited Andrea Reid at her Athabasca home on Dec. 14, 2001, a week before RCMP Const. Dennis Strongquill was gunned down near Russell, Man.

Sand, 24, and Bell, 21, both from Westlock, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Strongquill's death.

Other witnesses testified Tuesday that even as Bell was telling everyone she wanted to stop her drug habit, she was out getting drunk and smoking dope.

Bell smiled at her sister from the moment she walked into the courtroom and it didn't waver for the 45 minutes that Reid testified. Reid said when Sand and Bell arrived at her home, they had left Edmonton in a hurry.

Bell told her sister she had left without her wallet, identification and money, but Reid said Sand seemed prepared for a trip, even bringing his own shampoo.

Reid described Sand as quiet and polite. She told the jury how Bell talked about turning her life around, kicking her drug habit and settling down in Red Deer, where she'd spent time as a child.

Sand and Bell showed up at Reid's home several times over the next few days, she said, and Bell played with her three-year-old niece and helped bake cookies. One morning they left, with Bell saying they'd be back that night.

The next word Reid had was when police called her six days later, saying her sister had been arrested in connection with the Mountie's murder.

The Crown alleges that Bell, Sand, and his brother Danny took off on a crime spree across Alberta and Saskatchewan, until Strongquill and his partner pulled them over in a routine traffic stop Dec. 21, 2001.

The jury has heard a videotaped statement from Sand, where he describes shooting at the police car, following it when it headed back to the detachment and then shooting at it again.

Danny Sand was killed by a police sniper 14 hours later, while he was perched atop the roof of a motel in rural Saskatchewan, a rifle in his hands.

Witnesses have also testified that Sand wanted to make a new start with Bell and that he was chafing under the restrictions at the Edmonton half-way house he was living in.