DNA linked suspect to triple-murder scene, trial hears

It was DNA from a body hair and a spatter of blood, collected from the floor of an apartment where three elderly people were found dead in 2007, that linked Ian Bush to the crime, court heard Thursday.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details

From left, Raymonde Garon, her husband Alban Garon, and their friend and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos, were found dead in the Garons' apartment in June 2007. (Photo collage by CBC)

It was DNA from a body hair and a spatter of blood, collected from the floor of an apartment where three elderly people were found dead in 2007, that linked Ian Bush to the crime, court heard Thursday.

One of the two Ottawa police officers in charge of documenting the triple-homicide scene in June 2007 took the stand Thursday at Bush's trial on three counts of first-degree murder. 

Sgt. James Killeen, who is now a west district supervisor, worked as a forensic identification officer from 2003 to 2016. He was in charge of taking video and photographs while another officer wrote notes and collected samples at the luxury condo on Riverside Drive where a retired tax court judge, the judge's wife, and their friend and neighbour were found dead on June 30, 2007.

Ian Bush, 61, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. (Sketch by Lauren Foster-MacLeod for CBC News)

Alban Garon, the retired judge, died of strangulation from a noose placed around his neck, suffocation from a plastic bag placed over his head, and blunt force trauma powerful enough to fracture his skull.

His wife, Raymonde Garon, and Maire-Claire Beniskos died of suffocation from plastic bags placed over their heads. Both were hog-tied, their wrists and ankles bound together behind their backs with twine.

Bush, 61, was charged in 2015 with three counts of first-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty. His trial before a judge and jury is expected to last 12 weeks.

Ordinary domestic scenes

Killeen was called in to work early that day in June after the bodies were found, went to Ottawa police headquarters to be briefed and pick up equipment, then headed with the other officer to the condo.

Killeen shot a video of the scene before switching to taking photographs on 35-mm film, while the other officer took notes.

Killeen's photographs, shown in court Thursday, showed ordinary domestic scenes.

A man's shirt in the middle of being ironed, the iron having automatically shut itself off; a note from Raymonde to her husband, letting him know Jean-Claude wanted to go boating with him; receipts from June 28; a newspaper clipping for a showing of La Vie en Rose; and in Beniskos's next-door apartment, a pill organizer — the pills for Friday morning taken, the rest still there.

And then there were the photos of the victims, lying on the floor in the living room — Alban and Raymonde Garon side-by-side, he on his back, she on her stomach, with Beniskos close by, also on her stomach.

Shoe prints in blood

The jury also saw photos showing a series of bloody shoe prints — some so faint they were invisible to investigators at first, but made clearer with the application of a chemical used to interact with heme in blood, Killeen told court.

The shoe prints went from the bodies to a nearby washroom. Bloodstains were found and photographed on the faucets, the soap dish and around the sink.

DNA testing showed it was Alban Garon's blood, Killeen testified. One small bloodstain couldn't be ruled out as coming from his wife, he added.

Photos were also shown comparing the bloody shoe prints to the tread of a pair of New Balance 504 running shoes. The same shoes were seen in a photograph of Bush found at his home, court heard last week.

DNA evidence

The apartment floor was divided into sections before being swept for hair and fibre with Swiffer pads, one pad for each area. There were seven pads, each placed in separate bags and submitted for testing, along with various swabs of blood and other items.

Years later, on Feb. 4, 2015, Killeen and Sgt. Dan Brennan of the major crimes unit executed a warrant for a sample of Bush's blood, which was then taken by the officers to Toronto for analysis.

It came back as being connected to two pieces of DNA evidence collected at the crime scene in 2007: A body hair with a root suitable for DNA analysis, picked up from the floor with a Swiffer pad, and a mixed sample of blood swabbed from the floor, Killeen told court.

Bush can't be ruled out as the source of the DNA, he said.

Earlier Thursday, defence lawyer Geraldine Castle-Trudel concluded her cross-examination of property manager Nancy Bouillon, who testified about the security features of the gated condo complex. 

Killeen's testimony will continue next week. The Crown is also expected to call a blood spatter expert to the stand, as well as officers who tried to find shoes with treads matching the prints found in the apartment. Depending on timing, court might also hear from a knot expert, as well as the biologist who analyzed the DNA samples.