Murder-scene neighbour heard crying, scared voice through the walls during attack

Helen Patria Mandy sat in her upstairs bedroom, folding laundry, when she heard what sounded like a beating in the early evening of Dec. 16, 2015.

22-year-old Marissa Shephard is accused of 1st-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Baylee Wylie

Patrick Gould, front left, and Margot Estabrooks, front right, are both forensic witnesses called by the Crown in the first-degree murder trial of Marissa Shephard. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Helen Patria Mandy sat in her upstairs bedroom, folding laundry, when she heard what sounded like a beating in the early evening of Dec. 16, 2015.

"I heard someone say, 'You stole from us, you ratted to the police,'" Mandy said in a Moncton courtroom Tuesday. "I heard another person who was being beaten or hurt in some way saying, 'No, I love you guys.'"

Mandy was testifying at the trial of 22-year-old Marissa Shephard, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Baylee Wylie and with arson with disregard for human life.

Wylie's burned and battered body was found by Moncton firefighters early on Dec. 17, 2015, when they responded to a call at a triplex on Sumac Street.

Marissa Shephard, 22, of Moncton, is charged with murder and arson in the death of Baylee Wylie, 18, in December 2015. (RCMP)

Mandy described the attacker's voice as male, and the victim's voice as panicked and fearful, hurt and scared. She said it sounded as if two or three other people, one of them female, were also there during the attack, which lasted about a half-hour.

When asked by the Crown how she knew the victim was being hurt, Mandy said: "Just the way he was speaking, his voice, the banging, it sounded as if he was crying."

Things quieted down next door until around 10:30 p.m., when Mandy said she went into her basement and heard fighting again. 

"This time it was extremely loud and aggressive," she said. "I remember the victim saying, "Ow, ow, stop."

Mandy cried on the stand, saying she was terrified and called her sister to come over, which she did. Her sister left about an hour later. Mandy said she heard laughing and carrying on around 1 a.m. and went to sleep.

Next she was awakened by a firefighter bursting through her door because the neighbouring unit was on fire.

Crown prosecutor Annie St. Jacques during testimony Monday. (Andrew Robson)

Melanie Travers, formerly with NB Housing, testified that Shephard was the name of the tenant on the year-long lease for 96 Sumac St. 

Earlier in the day, Cpl. Denis Leblanc, a forensic identification specialist with the RCMP, testified about his job taking pictures at the murder scene. 

The court saw photos of red-stained walls next to everyday household items, including children's toys and a Christmas tree in a plastic bin. 

Between Dec.​17 and Dec. 20, Leblanc said, about 600 photographs were taken.

Crown prosecutor Eric Lalonde asked Leblanc about each photo, many taken in the basement of the triplex where Wylie spent his final hours.

They show a room in disarray. Bits of debris, plastics and clothing are strewn alongside a dagger with a skull and crossbones on it.

There are cigarette butts, a bra, children's clothing, a metal rod and a red-stained plastic Big 8 bottle, filled with green liquid.

Also shown is a fishing pole. Its possible significance was brought to light during the next witness's testimony.

Cpl. Margot Estabrooks was called by the Crown as an expert witness in "analysis comparison and identification of fingerprints."

She was called to the murder scene and was also present for Baylee Wylie's autopsy in Saint John.

Pictures of the teenager's body were shown to the court. There were brown paper bags tied to his hands and feet, put there by forensic specialists to preserve any evidence.

Estabrooks said that when the bag on Wylie's left foot was removed, green fishing line with a lure attached was found wound around his ankle.

In court, Crown prosecutor Annie St. Jacques asked Estabrooks to open the evidence bag containing the line, so the jury could see it.

Estabrooks also examined a Hyundai Elantra that was seized during the investigation. Inside the glove box, she found a black and gold can of Axe body spray.

St. Jacques asked, "Why was there any relevance?"

"That particular item was being searched for," said Estabrooks. The can was examined but no identifiable fingerprints were found.

So far in the trial, no fingerprints have been attributed to the accused.

On Monday, Crown prosecutors questioned the first four of a possible 72 witnesses that will be called during what is expected to be a three-month trial. 

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

Shephard has pleaded not guilty to both charges against her.

Devin Morningstar, 21, and Tyler Noel, 20, are both serving life sentences for murder and arson with disregard for human life. Morningstar was found guilty of first-degree murder and Noel pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder.

Court will not be in session Wednesday, because a snowstorm is expected, and sheriffs don't transport prisoners during storms.

Shephard is being driven in from the New Brunswick Women's Correctional Institute in Miramichi each morning.

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

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