Devin Morningstar again refuses to testify at Marissa Shephard's murder trial

A key Crown witness at Marissa Shephard's murder trial has refused once again to testify.

Judge instructs jury to disregard testimony of another Crown witness

Devin Morningstar, 20, refused to testify again on Friday when the Crown called him as a witness. (Facebook)

A key Crown witness at Marissa Shephard's murder trial has refused once again to testify.

Devin Morningstar was called to the witness box on Friday afternoon, and Justice Zoël Dionne asked if he would take an oath on the Bible or make a solemn affirmation.

"I still choose neither," said Morningstar, who had refused to testify on Wednesday.

The judge, standing, asked: "Are you willing to answer without doing either?"

"No," replied Morningstar, 20.

Shephard, 22, is on trial for first-degree murder and arson with disregard for life in the 2015 death of Moncton teen Baylee Wylie.

The judge asked Morningstar if he would not answer questions.

"That is correct," he replied.

"OK, you can bring him back," Dionne told the sheriff's deputies.

As the deputies led Morningstar out of the courtroom in handcuffs and shackles, he looked at Shephard in the prisoner's box.

She turned her head away.

Disgusted by comment

Marissa Shephard is charged with first-degree murder and arson with disregard for human life. (RCMP)

Earlier in the day, the judge instructed the jury to disregard the testimony of another Crown witness.

Lorina Van Nieuw Amerongen testified Friday morning about a jailhouse clash she said she had with Shephard.

Shephard, who has been in custody for more than two years, is being held at the New Brunswick Women's Correctional Centre in Miramichi.

Van Nieuw Amerongen, who served a five-month sentence at the jail for theft and identified Shephard in the courtroom, said she was sitting on a couch one day in Unit 5 of the jail with two other women, when she overheard Shephard make an offensive comment.

Van Nieuw Amerongen said she felt disgusted.

"I told her to shut up, we don't want to hear it."

Shephard, who was with a couple of other women, swore at her, she said.

Van Nieuw Amerongen said she tried to hit her, but guards stepped in, and both women were locked up for 24 hours.

'Pure speculation'

Van Nieuw Amerongen said she was released from jail in August 2017.  

She said she gave a statement to the RCMP because they asked to speak to her.

The judge later deemed Van Nieuw Amerongen's testimony "pure speculation" and said it should not have been presented.

He told the jury to remove it from their minds.

The final witness on Friday was Charles LeBlanc, the division chief with the Moncton Fire Department, who was declared an expert in origin or cause of fire. 

LeBlanc was called in to examine the scene at 96 Sumac St. on Dec. 17, 2015. 

He testified that he went through the house, noting human remains in the living room.

He said there three completely separate fires in the house that were not "attached" to each other, a situation he called "extremely unusual." 

Division chief Charles LeBlanc of the Moncton Fire Department says three separate fires were set at the house at 96 Sumac St., where Baylee Wylie's body was discovered. (Tori Weldon/CBC News )

One fire was started in the living room and a second one in women's lingerie at the top of the stairs to the second floor. A third fire was discovered between two mattresses in a bedroom.

LeBlanc said that in his opinion, a heat source had to be introduced by someone.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux, LeBlanc was asked if he had any idea who set the fires. 

"No" he replied.

The proceedings were delayed in the morning because of the weather and were cancelled on Thursday for the same reason.

The body of the 18-year-old Wylie was discovered by firefighters in Shephard's burned-out New Brunswick Housing unit at 96 Sumac St. on Dec. 17, 2015.

On Wednesday, RCMP Const. Joel Arsenault testified about his arrest of Shephard on March 1, 2016.

 Crown prosecutors Annie St. Jacques and Eric Lalonde started calling witnesses on March 12.

The trial is expected to last until May or June.