The lead investigator recounted the details of how police found the body of Amber Kirwan in a shallow grave more than two years ago as the first-degree murder trial for Christopher Alexander Falconer continued Friday in Pictou.

Falconer, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 19-year-old woman's death.

 

 Only one witness took the stand today, Sgt. Darlene MacEachern with the RCMP.

She described what was found on Kirwan's body.

MacEachern explained that two pieces of clothing — a black sweater and a black and blue shirt — were tied around Kirwan's wrists, along with a multi-coloured towel.

MacEachern revealed Kirwan had wounds on her back, neck and shoulders. She also had defensive wounds on her hands.

Then, step by step, MacEachern walked the jury through a search at a camper trailer on Hardwood Hill Road — That's the property of Falconer's step sister, Alice Meier. 

Several items were seized, including duct tape, two towels similar to the one buried with Kirwan's body and traces of blood.

"Ultimately the investigation led to searching that residence as it was felt that it might be a fruitful area to explore," said Crown Bill Gorman.

MacEachern also searched the car Falconer drove.

In it, a bloody muscle shirt, a pill bottle with a "powdery substance" and more blood was found.

Defence lawyer Mike Taylor focused his cross-examination on the preservation of evidence.

"Well it's always important for the jury to make decisions on whether or not the evidence that they've been hearing about and will  hear more about in the future is reliable and the issue of contamination is always something that has to be considered," said Taylor.

By mid afternoon, Justice Nick Scaravelli requested an early finish, after an emotionally exhausting day with a series of graphic autopsy photos.

"To be a jury member, perhaps never seeing anything like that before, to be confronted with that degree of grotesqueness — I can only imagine that would be shocking. It certainly was for me when I first saw them," said Patrick Young, Crown attorney.

Court wrapped early on Friday. The judge wanted to give everyone, especially the jury, a break after what's been a long and draining week.

The medical examiner will testify on Monday.

It's also expected Falconer's step sister will testify some time next week.

'Gut feeling' by witness led to discovery

On Thursday, the jury members were told the Kirwan case turned from a missing person file to a homicide investigation after a couple walking their dog in Heathbell found a pair of black leggings and feather earrings hanging in the bushes.

Nathan Goodall and Lisa Williams told the court they were shocked by what they found on their property on October 14, 2011.

The gruesome discovery came after Williams responded to a gut feeling.

The court then heard from three investigators who searched the area, and eventually found the spot where Kirwan was buried on a nearby logging road.

Earlier that day, Mason Campbell — Kirwan's boyfriend at the time of her death — told the court he was "frantic" after her disappearance.

During the cross-examination, defence lawyer Mike Taylor attempted to highlight discrepancies in Campbell's police statement and his timeline of events.

Taylor pointed out the 22-year-old man's Ford Focus was seized in the days after Kirwan's disappearance. In the car, police found duct tape and a shovel. Campbell said the shovel was part of his roadside kit.

He said neither he nor Kirwan knew Falconer.