The first-degree murder trial of Anne Norris won't focus on whether or not she did it — she's admitted that she beat Marcel Reardon in the head with a hammer until he died — but rather, whether she was in a rational state of mind when she did it.

Norris, 30, killed Reardon, 46, on May 9, 2016. The evening prior, she had met up with Reardon and two others — Jessica Peach and Kevin O'Brien — in downtown St. John's.

Norris left them, heading to Walmart on Topsail Road, where she purchased the hammer that would later be used to repeatedly hit and kill Reardon.

anne norris

This blue L.L. Bean backpack was found floating in the St. John's harbour. Inside, the hammer, with the yellow handle, used to kill Marcel Reardon. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

In the early morning hours of May 9, Norris and Reardon got a City Wide taxi back to 91 Brazil St. — the Harbour View Apartments, where Norris lived.

Norris later went back downtown to meet O'Brien, with the hammer in a backpack she borrowed from Peach. She dumped the backpack into the harbour, where it was found two days later.

A short time after Norris dumped the bag and weapon, Reardon's body was found under a set of steps. Norris admits she placed his body there.

Marcel Reardon

Anne Norris hit Marcel Reardon in the head with a hammer until he died.

The man who found that body was Shawn Pumphrey, who had himself just moved into the building.

Pumphrey also became acquainted with Norris in the days leading up to her arrest.

'Well-brought up, as we say'

Pumphrey was the second witness called to the stand at the trial on Monday. Crown prosecutor Jeff Summers asked him to review photos of the scene.

'I was more concerned with how she was feeling and her understanding of the circumstances.' -  Shawn Pumphrey, referring to Anne Norris

In his recollection, Pumphrey said he first thought the mess on the ground was something innocent — a pot from a Mother's Day dinner dumped out a window, maybe.

But then he realized it was blood and some clothing, and on closer inspection, saw there was a body.

Pumphrey said plenty of tenants in the building would chat among themselves about how "crazy" the whole thing was. That was on a Monday.

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Anne Norris sits in the prisoner's box in Supreme Court, while her family and supporters sit behind. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

By Thursday, Pumphrey had befriended a young woman in his building — Norris. There was police tape blocking off her apartment, No. 307, which she only recently moved into.

The building management put Norris into Apartment 302 in the meantime, but since she wasn't allowed access to her home or belongings, Pumphrey lent her some blankets and clothes, then they settled in and watched the movie The Intern on his computer.

anne norris

The first-degree murder trial of Anne Norris, 30, started Monday in St. John's. It's agreed that Norris repeatedly hit Marcel Reardon in the head with a hammer, causing his death. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

Pumphrey seemed concerned at what he described as a lack of understanding on Norris's part about what was going on, given what he had learned through chatting with her about her situation and recent release from the Waterford Hospital.

But he never connected police tape on her door to the obviously violent death he himself had discovered.

marcel reardon body

The stairs under which Anne Norris admits she placed Marcel Reardon's body, which would later be discovered by Shawn Pumphrey. Pumphrey recalls seeing the red sweater, before realizing there was a body inside of it. (RNC)

"I wasn't really concerned with the details of her past life … I was more concerned with how she was feeling and her understanding of the circumstances," Pumphrey told the court during the Crown's questioning.

Later, during cross-examination, Pumphrey described Norris as "vulnerable" and "well-brought up, as we say," adding she did nothing to suggest she was either involved or knew anything about Reardon's death.

Justice William Goodridge

Justice William Goodridge in Supreme Court in St. John's on Jan. 22 for the first-degree murder trial of Anne Norris. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

Pumphrey instead thought the police tape on her door was related to an apparent "stalker-type" possible boyfriend and drug dealer who was banned from the building, yet had managed to leave a note on Norris's apartment door.

"I didn't think she was … size enough to have moved a body and position it as it was," Pumphrey said, adding that he never felt threatened by Norris.

'The question to ask is "Why?"'

Before witnesses were called, both the Crown and defence acknowledged in their opening statements that the trial was not going to be about determining whether Norris was guilty of killing Reardon.

"As the Crown said, this is not a whodunit. There is no doubt that Ms. Norris caused the death of Marcel Reardon," defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan told the jury in her opening statements in court.

Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy

Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy are representing Anne Norris. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

"The question to ask is 'Why?'"

Norris went to police in 2014 to complain about years of sexual assaults, Sullivan added in her remarks, allegations she said have been unsubstantiated.

More witnesses will be called when court resumes at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The trial is slated for four weeks in Supreme Court in St. John's.

Follow along with the latest in the trial in our live blog.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this article stated that, in Rosellen Sullivan's opening statement, complaints made to police by Norris went investigated. In fact, the word used was unsubstantiated.
    Feb 02, 2018 10:15 AM NT