An expert from Ottawa testified he discovered gunshot residue on the outside of a hat that the Crown contends was worn by Brandon Phillips the night of a fatal 2015 armed robbery at a St. John's hotel.
Nigel Hearns, a gunshot residue specialist from the RCMP's crime lab, told a Supreme Court jury Friday that the front of a hat sent from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary tested positive for gunshot residue.
Hearns explained to the 12-person jury that fibres in clothing will — in some cases — hold gunshot residue for years if it is handled properly.
"If you don't wash it, it stays," he said.
The court has heard that RNC Const. Lisa Anderson found the hat around 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2015. It was nearly 10 and a half hours after bar patron Larry Wellman was shot.
Anderson located the hat on Forest Avenue, which runs behind the Captain's Quarters Hotel, which faces King's Bridge Road.
Defence raises questions on handling of hat
Members of the RNC's forensic identification unit collected the hat about an hour later.
During cross-examination Thursday, defence lawyer Jeff Brace questioned it if was possible that one of the RNC officers who had been at the crime scene could have transferred gunshot residue to the hat.
Hearns told the jury Friday that scenario is unlikely if clean gloves were used to collect the evidence.
Phillips, 29, is charged in the shooting death of Wellman, 63, on Oct. 3, 2015 during an armed robbery at the Captain's Quarters.
The Crown alleges Phillips brought a sawed-off shotgun to the hotel in order to rob it.
Hearns will be cross-examined Friday afternoon.
So far in the trial, the jury has:
- Seen security footage from the bar during the 2015 robbery
- Heard from Wellman's widow about the night her husband was killed
- Listened to testimony from Const. Barry Reynolds, the police officer who stayed with Wellman during his final moments,
- Heard from Shawn Deeley, a former patron at the Captain's Quarters
- Received an update from Dr. Simon Avis, chief medical examiner for Newfoundland and Labrador, testified Wellman was killed by a single gunshot to the groin.
- Been shown evidence such as a mask and shotgun that were collected after the shooting.
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