Nova Scotia

First day of testimony in cab driver's homicide

The trial of a Dartmouth man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a cab driver resumed Thursday with the defence's cross-examination of a police officer in charge of crime scenes.
The burned-out remains of Sergei Kostin's cab were found in January 2009. (CBC)

The trial of a Dartmouth man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a cab driver resumed Thursday with the defence's cross-examination of a police officer in charge of crime scenes.  

Chaze Lamar Thompson, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the 2009 death of Dartmouth taxi driver Sergei Kostin, a long-time driver who moved to Canada from Ukraine.  

Before the crime scene photos were shown to the court, the judge cautioned jurors to prepare themselves for the graphic nature of some of the photos.  

On April 1, 2009, Kostin's body was discovered in the woods off Upper Governor Street in North Preston, about a kilometre from where his cab was found. There was not enough daylight to complete the investigation, so the crime scene was guarded overnight. Most of the investigative work was completed the next day.  

The court heard Thursday there were ATV tracks near Kostin's abandoned cab. But the testifying officer, Sgt. Darrell Longley, said he could not remember whether tracks were there when he first arrived on the scene.  

That prompted the defence to question whether someone was riding an ATV near the crime scene when it was supposed to be secured.  

Longley said there was no blood, footprints, fingerprints or any other evidence where the burned-out cab was discovered that could identify the killer.  

Under the defence's cross examination, Longley admitted Kostin's car was never tested for accelerants. He said the fire that burned Kostin's car was so intense it left nothing but a metal shell.  

Crown's star witness to come

The accused's first cousin, Wayne MacEvoy, who the crown claims was with Thompson when he shot and killed Sergei Kostin in January 2009, will testify later in the trial.

In his opening statement Wednesday morning, Crown prosecutor Eric Taylor told the 14-member jury that MacEvoy will testify that he and Thompson called a cab to a convenience store in Dartmouth and had the driver take them to Cherry Brook.

MacEvoy will claim that Thompson fired a single shot from the back seat of the cab, instantly killing Kostin.

He will also allege that they hauled the body into the backseat and drove to a deserted street to hide it, before hitchhiking back to Dartmouth.

The Crown said MacEvoy was startled by the killing and afraid of Thompson so he went along with it.

He went to police in April 2009 with a statement and led them to the body.

MacEvoy has been granted immunity.

Kostin last seen on Gaston Road

Kostin was reported missing in January 2009, after he was last seen picking up a fare at a variety store on Gaston Road in Dartmouth. Three days later, the burned-out remains of his cab were found at the end of Downey Road in North Preston.

Police have not said how Kostin died.

Kostin had no family in the Halifax area — his wife and other relatives live in his native Ukraine — and he was a driver for Bob's Taxi for about 10 years.

Thompson was charged in January 2010, almost a year after Kostin was first reported missing.

Jury selection got underway Monday morning as Thompson's six-week trial began.

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