Twitchell grilled over lies, weapons

The family of Johnny Altinger spoke about their grief for the first time Thursday after they watched crown prosecutors cross-examine the man accused of killing him, Mark Twitchell.

Crown goes after murder suspect's persistent lies

Johnny Altinger's brother Gary and his mother Elfriede speak to reporters outside the Edmonton courthouse Thursday. (CBC)

The family of Johnny Altinger spoke about their grief for the first time Thursday after they watched Crown prosecutors cross-examine the man accused of killing him, Mark Twitchell.

"It's been the worst," Altinger's brother Gary said about the evidence presented to the jury. "There's nothing else [that] can be said."

Twitchell, 31, is charged with first-degree murder for bludgeoning, stabbing and dismembering Altinger, 38, on Oct. 10, 2008, in a rented garage in south Edmonton. Twitchell admits he killed Altinger but says he did so in self-defence.

"There will never be closure, but it goes on to the next step, I think," Altinger's mother Elfriede Altinger said. "Start to heal. If that's possible."

Evidence in the case wrapped up Thursday. The jury was told to return Monday to hear closing arguments

Crown prosecutors spent Thursday cross-examining Twitchell, an aspiring filmmaker, about his claim that he killed Altinger in self-defence.

Almost immediately, the Crown focused on what it called Twitchell's willingness to lie to anyone — family, friends, police or victims — to suit his needs and no matter how inconsequential the reason.

Johnny Altinger is shown here in an undated photo. (CBC)
Crown prosecutor Avril Inglis asked Twitchell about lying to his wife about having a job, going to therapy appointments and visiting online dating sites.

"It seems to me you're willing to lie for any reason," said Inglis.

Twitchell admitted he lied to a friend about how he came to have Altinger's car and that he lied to police throughout the investigation.

"I was trying to put off the inevitable," he said, dealing with the enormity of what he had done, stabbing Altinger and watching him die.

Remorseful but continued to lie

Twitchell said he was filled with regret, sorrow, remorse and helplessness, but admitted he continued to lie.

Less than an hour into the cross-examination Twitchell grew quiet in his responses to Inglis's aggressive questioning, answering most questions with a simple, "Yes."

During testimony Wednesday, Twitchell said he lured Altinger to the garage to create online buzz for a short film about a Dexter-like serial killer, which he produced in the garage two weeks earlier and was calling House of Cards.

Altinger, who arrived at the garage believing he was meeting a woman from an online dating site, became angry when he found out he had been duped, Twitchell said.

When Altinger attacked him, Twitchell testified he killed him in self-defence.

The Crown maintains Twitchell enticed Altinger to the garage with the sole purpose of killing him, mirroring his movie script.

"You watched yourself stab him and watched him die," Inglis said to Twitchell in measured tones that became louder as she continued. "You had no remorse because you did exactly what you intended to do."

"You put his body in garbage bags and hauled it around like it was garbage," she said. "And then you dumped it into a sewer."

Admits weapons not used as props

At one point in her cross examination, Inglis honed in on the weapons Twitchell used to kill Altinger.

She asked Twitchell if all the weapons in his garage were props.

"Yes," he replied.

Inglis asked if the hunting knife he used to kill Altinger was ever used as a prop. Twitchell admitted it wasn’t.

She asked whether the pipe he used to bludgeon Altinger was ever used as a prop. Twitchell said it was for a future project.

Inglis asked about the processing kit used to dismember Altinger’s body.

The kit was used in House of Cards, though the scenes were later cut, Twitchell claimed.

With files from CBC's Briar Stewart, Janice Johnston and Terry Reith