Grisly photos displayed on 1st day of testimony at Marissa Shephard trial

RCMP experts began giving jurors a picture Monday of the crime scene they confronted more than two years ago after a body was found in the ruins of a Sumac Street house in Moncton.

Shephard, 22, is charged with 1st-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Baylee Wylie

RCMP Cpl. Patrick Gould testified he searched the residence for anything that could have been used as a weapon. (Andrew Robson)

Pictures presented to the court on Monday afternoon showed 18-year-old Baylee Wylie's burned and battered body.

When the images appeared on the courtroom's five screens, the victim's mother, Amanda Wylie, ran crying from the room.

Not long afterward, close-up pictures of Wylie's head and neck, showing many burn marks and stab wounds, forced more members of the family to run sobbing from the room. 

Justice Zoël Dionne described the pictures as gruesome and wondered if Crown prosecutors could finish with "sensitive photos" by the end of the day.

Protected evidence

The pictures are part of the first-degree murder trial of  22-year-old Marissa Shephard of Moncton. She is also facing a charge of arson with disregard for human life.

The grisly photos were part of Cpl. Denis LeBlanc's testimony. The forensic identification specialist with the Codiac RCMP investigated the crime scene at 96 Sumac St. in December 2015, shortly after the murder.

In the witness box, LeBlanc described placing bags on Wylie's hands and feet to preserve any evidence that might be found under the victim's toenails and fingernails.

Wylie's body was then removed in a white body bag, from the triplex unit. 

LeBlanc's partner, testified earlier in the day. Cpl. Patrick Gould told the court he spent three days collecting evidence at the burned-out triplex where 18-year-old Wylie was found.

Victim on his back

The body of 18-year-old Baylee Wylie was discovered in a residence in Moncton by firefighters in December after extinguishing an early morning fire at the residence. (Submitted)

When Gould arrived the morning Wylie's body was discovered, the inside of the house was covered with soot, and water was still dripping from firefighters' efforts to put out a fire there.

It was firefighters who discovered Wylie's body beneath a mattress. He had been bound to a chair, beaten and stabbed more than 200 times.

Gould said he found the victim lying on his back, wearing a damaged T-shirt and boxers, with numerous injuries to his torso, legs and hands.

Also in the kitchen, were red stains on the floor, wash gloves, cigarettes and liquor, Gould said. He also found a broken piece of mirror with bloodstains on it.

A sketch of Marissa Shephard sitting in the prisoner's box in Moncton Court of Queen's Bench last week. (Andrew Robson)

He said he took 600 photographs, "give or take a hundred."

Because of the nature of Wylie's wounds, Gould said, he was looking for anything that could be used as a weapon — pointed objects, such as knives or tools, and red-stained objects.

"We try to seize everything that will help the investigation," he told Crown prosecutor Annie St. Jacques before the trial broke for lunch. 

Gould collected evidence outside the house first, then went inside to collect more.

He changed his gloves after each swab "to eliminate cross-contamination as best you can."

Shephard, 22, of Moncton, is on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Baylee Wylie, 18, in December 2015. (RCMP)

Sgt. Rick Younker, an expert in forensic mapping, testified about taking measurements at the scene and was quickly followed by Steven Campbell, a retired corporal, who testified about aerial photography of the house in the Lewisville area of Moncton.

A sketch of Justice Zoël Dionne in Moncton Court of Queen's Bench. He cautioned the jury to expect graphic evidence in coming weeks. (Andrew Robson)

St. Jacques has said she will call more than 70 witnesses in the case, including Devin Morningstar, one of three people accused in Wylie's death.

Morningstar, 21, was found guilty of first-degree murder and arson with disregard for human life in November 2016. He is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The other individual involved in Wylie's death was Tyler Noel, 20, who is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 16 years after pleading guilty last May to second-degree murder and arson with disregard for human life.

Shephard has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

A 14-person jury and two alternates were selected last week, but one juror was discharged for "unexpected reasons" minutes before the Crown's opening statement. An alternate juror was discharged on Monday.

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.