Nfld. & Labrador

Court hears from Graham Veitch in recorded calls with police at murder trial

Trial scheduled until Friday, but one of defence's witnesses out sick for six weeks means there will be a break.

WARNING: Some may find the photo in this story disturbing

Graham Veitch is charged with second-degree murder in the 2016 death of his mother's partner, David Collins. All three lived at a home on Cadigan's Road in Logy Bay. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

The court heard a phone call between the accused and police and examined photos of the murder scene on day two of testimony in the second-degree murder trial of Graham Veitch.

Veitch admitted to killing David Collins, his mother's partner, on Monday, but has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, with his lawyers arguing Veitch is not criminally responsible for his actions due to a mental disorder.

The charge against Veitch was changed Monday, from first-degree to second-degree murder.

The court heard from six witnesses Tuesday, including a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer with training in crisis negotiation, who spoke to Veitch over the phone several times after Veitch fled his family's Logy Bay home the night of the killing. 

The Crown played recorded conversations between Veitch and Insp. Alex Brennan, who in 2016 was a sergeant. On the recording, Brennan tells Veitch he wants to talk to him, and they can talk about whatever Veitch would like.

"What is there really to talk about?" Veitch asks. 

"I had a bad day."

Soon, Veitch warms up to Brennan, answering questions about his interests. He tells the police officer he likes kickboxing and playing electric guitar. His favourite music is classic rock, especially Guns N' Roses. 

Insp. Alex Brennan spoke to Graham Veitch several times on the phone the night of the killing, Dec. 18, 2016. (Bailey White/CBC)

After several minutes the call disconnects, and when Brennan calls back Veitch sounds groggy. Brennan asks if he's taken any drugs but Veitch doesn't answer. 

Brennan asks if he plans to hurt himself, and after a long pause, Veitch responds, "I do not. No, no, no, no."

'Family first'

On Tuesday morning court heart from two Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers who processed Veitch the day after Collins was killed in December 2016.

In other words, they took exhibits, including fingernail scrapings, swabs and clothing. 

Former RNC Officer Marina Carbonell testified about photos she took of Veitch in a police interview room one day after Collins was killed. She noted Veitch's tattoos: "Family" on the right hand, and "First" on the left. (CBC)

Marina Carbonell, who has since left the force, took photos and described them to the court. She noted the tattoos on the back of Veitch's hands, which read "Family First."

Carbonell also testified about injuries on Veitch's body and pink or red "discolouration" on his arms and clothes. 

She and the officer she worked with, Const. Lisa Fitzgerald, testified that Veitch had trouble following instructions, something Carbonell said seemed strange to her.

Const. Lisa Fitzgerald took exhibits from Graham Veitch on Dec. 19, 2016. She testified that he trouble following instructions. (Bailey White/CBC)

 Fitzgerald said Veitch seemed confused about what was happening, and couldn't explain whether injuries on his body were old or new. 

Blood in home, car

Two more officers from the RNC's forensic identification officers testified about blood spatter.

Const. Patricia Barnes described the photos she took at 32 Cadigan's Road, where Collins was killed. The photos weren't shown to people in the gallery, but Barnes explained they showed bloodstains on the living room floor, a wall and ceiling.

A pair of blood-stained glasses was photographed on the floor of the Cadigan's Road home living room. Const. Patricia Barnes testified that blood splatted stretched from floor to ceiling. (CBC)

Sgt. Ron Simms testified about the photos he took of Collins's Chevrolet Cruze, the car Veitch admits to stealing after the killing. Simms described photos of the damage sustained when Veitch drove the car into a police truck, and said tests showed there was blood inside the car, too. 

RNC Sgt. Ron Simms testified about blood found inside David Collins's Chevrolet Cruze, including the outline of a hammer on the passenger seat. (Bailey White/CBC)

Simms said the officers used the chemical luminol to detect blood, and it showed the outline of a hammer on the passenger seat.

An agreed statement of facts entered into evidence Monday said Veitch killed Collins with a hammer. He told police he later threw it into the ocean. 

The trial for Veitch, 21, is scheduled to last until Friday, but defence lawyer Mark Gruchy said one of his witnesses is sick, and won't be available for six weeks.

Collins, 55, died in 2016 at a home in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. (Facebook)

Once the Crown's evidence presentation is finished, there will be a break. It's not yet clear how long the Crown's witnesses will take.

A lengthy statement of facts, signed by Veitch, was entered into evidence Monday, described the mental health issues Veitch, 18 at the time, was experiencing.

Veitch is also charged with assaulting his mother, assaulting a police officer, stealing a car and evading police. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

The second-degree murder trial is being heard by judge-alone.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Bailey White