Edmonton

Homicide victim's friend removed evidence from crime scene, murder trial hears

Darren Boisvert testified on the third day of the Jason Steadman first-degree murder trial. The friend of homicide victim, Dwayne Demkiw, testified he went to the last place Demkiw was seen alive and began looking for clues.

‘I was just looking for clues,' Dwayne Demkiw’s friend testified

Dwayne Demkiw, 42, was last seen alive May 31, 2015. (Facebook )

Two pieces of potentially crucial evidence in a murder case were removed from a crime scene by a friend of the homicide victim. On Thursday in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench, the friend explained to a jury his method and his motivation.

Jason Steadman is charged with the first-degree murder of Dwayne Demkiw on May 31, 2015. He's also accused of setting Demkiw's car on fire in a Calgary parkade later that same day.

The jury has been told the 42-year old limo driver was last seen alive at 4:04 a.m. on surveillance video taken inside a limousine bay. Days later, police found his destroyed cellphone along Anthony Henday Drive. Demkiw's scattered remains were discovered almost a year later.

The day Demkiw disappeared, his friends and family had no idea what had happened to him. There were phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts as his loved ones scrambled to figure out what was going on.

Darren Boisvert had known homicide victim Dwayne Demkiw for 13 years when Demkiw disappeared May 31, 2015. (Facebook)

Darren Boisvert had known Demkiw for 13 years. The two men weren't close friends, but kept in touch regularly through social media. When a cousin let Boisvert know Demkiw had disappeared, he followed his instincts.

"I googled the address of the company Dwayne was working for at the time," Boisvert testified. "It happened to be not far from my address so I thought I would drive there in person... I was just curious to see the layout of this facility and the parking lot. Try to lend a hand."

As soon as he arrived at Revolution Limousine, Boisvert got out of his Hummer and began to photograph the scene with his cellphone camera.

"I started taking pictures from many different angles before I touched anything," Boisvert explained. "I was thinking worst-case scenario."

When Boisvert went around to the back where the limo bay and parking lot were located, he said he spotted two "unusual" items in a planter.

Two potentially crucial pieces of evidence were discovered in the corner of this planter, located just outside the door of the limousine bay. (Court exhibit )

"One was a black ball cap. The other one I wasn't sure at first," Boisvert said. "It appeared to be a knife sheath, but it was larger than any knife sheath I've seen before."

In Boisvert's opinion, the items had been placed there "recently." It had rained the night before and he testified the two pieces "weren't too dirty".

Prosecutor Chantelle Washenfelder asked Boisvert what his state of mind was at the time of the discovery. He explained he thought back to his childhood when he devoured every Encyclopedia Brown book in the series.

"The series is about a young boy detective who liked to solve things," Boisvert said. "I was thinking the worst possible case scenario. He's gone missing — what can be the possible reason for it. So I was just looking for clues."

At that point, Boisvert had no idea police were already involved because Demkiw's car had been found on fire in Calgary. The Crown asked if he thought about calling police after making his find.

"Not at that time," he said. "It was just in the very early phases of being informed he was missing."

Handling the evidence

Boisvert described his handling of the evidence in painstaking detail. He returned to his vehicle, grabbed a pair of work gloves, then returned to the planter. He picked up the sheath and ball cap and put them into a plastic shopping bag.

He told the jury repeatedly he never touched the items with his bare hands.

The book series about a boy detective inspired Darren Boisvert as he was growing up. (Amazon.com)

Boisvert returned to the parking lot later that evening to do an even more thorough search and to take more pictures.

"I'm a very curious, visual person," he explained. "This could be a potentially serious situation. I would rather err on the side of caution and record these things."

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Darin Sprake said, "You had nothing to do with those items being placed there. Is that fair?"

"Absolutely not," Boisvert immediately replied.

After his second search, Boisvert tried to drop his evidence off at the police station, but it was already closed so he left a message with an officer.

The next day police picked up the items.

It remains to be seen what relevance, if any, the items have in the case.

The trial continues.

Darren Boisvert took one last photo of the knife sheath and ball cap as he laid them out on the passenger seat of his Hummer before placing them in a plastic bag to hand over to police. (Court exhibit )

About the Author

Janice Johnston

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston