It's a match: DNA of Brandon Phillips found on hat, sneakers, jury told

Florence Célestin, a forensic DNA specialist from the RCMP lab in Ottawa, is testifying at the Brandon Phillips first-degree murder trial Tuesday.

Florence Célestin says Larry Wellman's DNA also on sneakers

Florence Célestin, of the RCMP's crime lab in Ottawa, appears in court in St. John's Tuesday morning. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

DNA matching Brandon Phillips, accused of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Larry Wellman, was found on a hat and sneakers, a St. John's court heard Tuesday.

Florence Célestin, an expert in DNA analysis from the RCMP's crime lab in Ottawa, did not complete the testing but did review the reports completed by her retired colleague.

The lab tested a number of pieces of evidence, Célestin said, including a pair of Nike Jordans, a navy hat, a shotgun shell, and a piece of wood.

1 in 18 quintillion

One out of the pair of sneakers, which police discovered at 30A Quidi Vidi Road, was found to have Wellman's DNA on the tread of the heel.

Phillips's DNA was found on the upper tongue of the right sneaker, she said. The chance the DNA belongs to someone else is one in 18 quintillion. 

An expert testified that gunshot residue was found on the outside of the front of a hat found not far from the Captain's Quarters Hotel, on Oct. 4, 2015. (RNC photograph)

Crown attorney Mark Heerema told the jury earlier in the trial that Phillips had been watched by police entering and exiting the home on Quidi Vidi Road.

That's also where, according to Heerema, the alleged murder weapon was found. 

Célestin also testified to the DNA found on a navy hat that was found on Forest Avenue, which runs behind the Captain's Quarters Hotel.

Phillips's DNA was discovered on the inside of the hat and near the two slits that were made to the front.

A pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers were seized by police from a house on Quidi Vidi Road. They were sent for DNA analysis at a forensics lab outside of the province. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

Phillips's DNA was also found to be on a red shotgun shell, while Wellman's DNA was on a piece of wood that was seized from the hotel.

Crown rests case this week​

Jurors, who have entered the third week of the trial, heard from a firearms expert Monday who travelled from Ottawa to take the stand.

Laura Knowles testified that tests on the alleged murder weapon determined the gun discharged upon impact on the receiver and barrel.

Crime scene analysts are expected to be on the witness stand Wednesday. 

Janet Hutchings, the bartender who was held up the night Wellman intervened and was killed, is expected to take the stand on Thursday — closing out the Crown's case.

Follow the latest from the trial on our live blog. Can't see on mobile? Click here

So far in the trial, the jury has:

About the Author

Ariana Kelland


Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.