Edmonton

Twitchell bludgeoned, stabbed victim, jury told

Aspiring filmmaker Mark Twitchell bludgeoned Johnny Altinger with a copper pipe, stabbed and dismembered him, an Edmonton jury was told Wednesday

Warning: This story contains graphic and disturbing details

Mark Twitchell is shown in a court sketch at the start of his first-degree murder trial Wednesday. (CBC)

Aspiring filmmaker Mark Twitchell bludgeoned Johnny Altinger with a copper pipe, stabbed and dismembered him, before tossing his remains in a sewer, an Edmonton jury was told Wednesday.

Crown prosecutor Lawrence Van Dyke made the statements at the start of Twitchell's first-degree murder trial in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench.

Twitchell, 31, is accused of killing Altinger in October 2008. He pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge after the Crown refused to consent when he tried pleading guilty to a charge of improperly interfering with a dead body.

Some of Altinger's skeletal remains were found in a sewer less than two blocks from the north Edmonton home belonging to Twitchell's parents in June 2010, Van Dyke told the court.

Investigators went there after a meeting with Twitchell. The remains had evidence of cutting and sawing, he said.

Edmonton filmmaker Mark Twitchell, shown here doing an interview in May 2007, is charged with first-degree murder. (CBC)
Twitchell had a plan to "simply and shockingly gain the experience of killing another human being," Van Dyke said.

The Crown plans to introduce into evidence a 30-page document found on Twitchell's computer titled "SK Confessions," which police believe details the luring, attack and killing of Altinger.

The document starts with the line, "This is the story of my progression into becoming a serial killer," Van Dyke said.

Police believe Twitchell tried to burn Altinger's remains in a steel drum in his parents' backyard. When that failed, he put the remains in a nearby sewer, Van Dyke said.

Altinger's blood was found on the walls and table of the garage, the jury was told.

Van Dyke said Altinger's blood was also found on a number of items uncovered in the investigation: a copper pipe; a hunting knife found in Twitchell's car; a pair of jeans found at Twitchell's home; a glove located at Twitchell's parents' house.

Twitchell had been filming a movie based on a self-penned script called House of Cards in a rented south Edmonton garage. Van Dyke told the jury they will hear from a man who was previously attacked by Twitchell but managed to escape.

Van Dyke said Altinger was lured to that garage on Oct. 10, 2008, thinking he was going to meet a woman. He was never seen again.

Judge issues rules for media coverage

Earlier in the day, Justice Terry Clackson, concerned about international interest in the trial, took time to outline the ground rules for news coverage.

"I've given this a lot of thought," the judge said.

Clackson said he spoke with judges across the country who have presided over other high-profile cases, such as the recent sentencing of Russell Williams, the former colonel who killed two women while commanding a Canadian Forces base in Ontario.

In the end, Clackson decided the media can see whatever he sees, including all photos, documents, and audio and video recordings entered as exhibits.

As Clackson addressed the news media, Twitchell appeared alert but relaxed in the prisoner's box.

The Crown is expected to call 50 to 60 witnesses over the next four weeks.

With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston and Briar Stewart

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