Face in the courtroom: Larry Wellman's childhood friend takes in trial
'I'm stuck for words,' Rick Saunders says of disturbing video evidence
Three rows back in the gallery of a St. John's courtroom sits a grey-haired man, his arms crossed, eyes fixated on the scene unfolding at Brandon Phillips's first-degree murder trial.
Rick Saunders, a boyhood friend of shooting victim Larry Wellman, was in the courtroom as video evidence showed the moment the 63-year-old was shot during an armed robbery.
"It's quite difficult. I'm stuck for words," Saunders told CBC News outside the courthouse.
"I don't know what to say about it — it's a shock."
Saunders had known Wellman since he was seven years old. The boys lived just two doors down from each other.
"He was a couple years older than me," Saunders said.
"You're not allowed to play with the bigger boys, but once in a while you get together for a game of baseball."
Intervened in robbery
Brandon Phillips, 29, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Wellman.
The Crown contends that Phillips is the man whose armed robbery was caught on surveillance camera at the Captain's Quarters Hotel on Oct. 3, 2015.
Video of the shooting was entered into evidence last week, and shows Wellman getting into an altercation with a masked gunman.
"That's something that Larry would have done," Saunders said. "It was in Larry's nature to help out. I don't think he suspected what was going to happen — of course no one would."
Saunders said Wellman helped get him a job as a firefighter in Corner Brook.
He reflects fondly on his childhood friend, who was a skilled salmon fisherman and a man who enjoyed nothing more than a belly laugh and a good story.
Saunders wanted to be there to show his support for his old friend.
"I had to make the trip to St. John's anyway and I said, 'If there is anyway in the world that I can get here, I will sit in in [for] a day or two.'"
The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday.
Read CBC NL's previous coverage of the trial:
- Day 1: Brandon Phillips jury selection begins: What you need to know
- Day 2: Jury taking shape for trial of Brandon Phillips, accused in Captain's Quarters killing
- Day 2: Strategic selection: How the jury is chosen for Brandon Phillips trial
- Day 3: Jury, 2 alternates selected for Brandon Phillips 1st-degree murder trial
- Day 4: 'Nobody be a f--king hero': Chilling video played at Brandon Phillips trial
- Day 5: 'I told him I loved him': Widow's emotional last moments with Larry Wellman revealed in court
- Day 5: Police officer lay in pool of blood to comfort Larry Wellman in last moments
- Opinion: It's OK for cops to cry: A human moment at the Phillips trial