Nova Scotia

Melvin jury begins deliberations as judge urges scrutiny of key witness

A judge has strongly instructed a Halifax jury in Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s first-degree murder trial to scrutinize the testimony of star prosecution witness and paid police informant Derek MacPhee with "the greatest care and caution."

Judge notes career criminal Derek MacPhee has been paid for co-operation with police

Jimmy Melvin Jr. (CBC)

A judge has strongly instructed a Halifax jury in Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s first-degree murder trial to scrutinize the testimony of star prosecution witness and paid police informant Derek MacPhee with "the greatest care and caution."

Melvin has been on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court for the death of his rival, Terry Marriott Jr., who was shot multiple times while he napped at a friend's Harrietsfield, N.S., home on Feb. 20, 2009. 

The jury began deliberations Thursday in the case following instructions from Justice Jamie Campbell about how it should approach evidence and testimony presented during the trial.

MacPhee, a career criminal who has lied repeatedly in the past, is the only witness that has implicated Melvin in the murder. There's no physical evidence linking Melvin to the killing.

Campbell noted MacPhee had denied any involvement in the homicide until he was arrested in 2015 for a home invasion. He was given immunity from prosecution in that case and a "long list of other matters in exchange for co-operating with the police."

Derek MacPhee, seen in this photo posted to Facebook, testified at Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s trial. (Facebook)

"He's also received a monetary payment in return for his co-operation," Campbell told the jury. "That means he was paid to be here."

During the trial, MacPhee testified he drove Melvin on a four-wheeler to and from the scene of the murder and said they were both armed with handguns. MacPhee said he parked across from the home and heard five loud bangs after Melvin went inside. He also testified that Melvin told him he got rid of the murder weapon.

Campbell noted Thursday that MaPhee implicated himself in Marriott's murder when he spoke to police and was given immunity. MacPhee has a long record for criminal convictions.

"Derek MacPhee isn't just a person with a criminal record," the judge said. "Many of the offences for which he's been convicted reflect on the honesty and integrity of the person involved.

"He's stolen, robbed, had counterfeit money and breached orders and undertakings given to this court. He's promised the court to abide by conditions with no intention of ever complying with them."

MacPhee has also admitted that he's lied under oath in court and to police, and "in just about any context when it suits his purposes," the judge said.

Terry Marriott Jr. (Facebook)

"The concern with Derek MacPhee even goes beyond that," Campbell said. "Based on his own statement, he was heavily involved in the murder of Terry Marriott. He's not just a witness who was given money and immunity for other crimes.

"He's admitted to being a participant in the murder of Terry Marriott and has an incentive to deflect blame to someone else."

The jury left the courtroom at 12:15 p.m. Thursday to begin deliberations. Only 12 of the 13 jurors will decide the case. One was discharged in a random draw.

Blood found in MacPhee's pocket

During the trial, MacPhee testified that Melvin told him that he was going to kill Marriott. He spoke of a beef between the two men. On Dec. 2, 2008, MacPhee called police to his home, he said, to thwart Melvin from killing Marriott there.

Marriott was shot to death about 2½ months later. MacPhee testified he returned to the scene after the shooting. Police were called.

Marriott's blood was found on the inside right pocket of MacPhee's jeans. Gunshot residue was found on MacPhee's hands and face, and on the left hand and face of John Lively, whose Harrietsfield home was the scene of the murder.

MacPhee testified he might have got the gunshot residue on himself while driving Melvin from the scene.

MacPhee and Lively both snorted cocaine on a coffee table beside Marriott's body. MacPhee also testified that before the police were called, he searched Marriott's pockets for cocaine and money.

Testimony of police

The jury also must decide whether to believe the testimony of the police officers who arrested Melvin July 2015.

One officer said upon arrest Melvin asked who he allegedly killed. He told officers not to believe Ding Dong (MacPhee's nickname), that the charge was not going to stick on him and that he knew police did not have a murder weapon.

To find Melvin guilty of first-degree murder, the jury must find that the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Melvin caused Marriott's death; that Melvin caused the death unlawfully; that Melvin had a state of mind required for murder; and that Melvin planned and deliberated the murder.

The jury could also find Melvin guilty of second-degree murder, or manslaughter, or could find him not guilty.