HALIFAX — Prosecutors in the trial of inmates accused of attempting to murder a prisoner in his Nova Scotia jail cell have introduced DNA evidence linking the victim's blood to three of the alleged assailants' clothing.
The trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court has heard evidence Stephen Anderson was beaten and stabbed on Dec. 2, 2019, as a wall of inmates prevented correctional officers from intervening at the Burnside jail in Dartmouth, N.S.
Lab reports entered as evidence Friday and Monday indicate the victim's blood was on the socks of Colin Ladelpha and the sneakers of Kirk Carridice, who are two of six inmates currently on trial. The victim's blood was also on the T-shirt of Andriko Crawley, who is one of eight inmates facing trial later this fall on the same charges as the other six.
RCMP forensics lab specialist Laurie Bradford told the court Monday that the blood on the clothing almost certainly belonged to Anderson, who has since recovered from his injuries. The trial has heard that Anderson had exited the cell shirtless and the shirt left behind was tested to identify his blood.
The first six of the 15 accused in the case are Ladelpha, Carridice, Jacob Lilly, Wesley Haridman, Matthew Lambert and Omar McIntosh.
All 15 are facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, unlawful confinement, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and obstructing a peace officer. Lilly is also facing a charge of assaulting a police officer. A 15th inmate, Sophon Sek, is facing a separate trial later this fall.
On Monday afternoon, Sgt. Adrian Butler, an RCMP blood spatter expert, said there were two areas of Anderson's cell where over 100 blood splatter stains were found. He said those splatters were caused by someone being struck.
Many of the blood splatters were on the door and walls of the cell, and they were at a height of between 50 and 75 centimetres, consistent with Anderson being in a kneeling position when he was struck, Butler testified.
"It’s a lot of (blood) spatter," Butler told Justice Jamie Campbell. "In general … the more spatter stains, and the finer the (size of) stains, the more force is involved."
The expert said there were blood-soaked handprints from Anderson on the walls, adding that there was a pool of blood on the ground and a pattern of bloodstains indicating Anderson fell on the floor.
Billy Sparks, the defence lawyer for Ladelpha, asked Butler whether he believed there should have been blood on the clothing of people alleged to have attacked him.
"That's the problem with this case," Butler replied. "There was no clothing immediately seized and there was quite a time period before individuals were interviewed."
Pavel Boubnov, representing Hardiman, asked Butler whether he could quantify the number of blows linked to the blood spatters. Butler replied that it was unclear.
Fern Hatcher, a licensed practical nurse who works at the facility, said she counted multiple stab wounds on Anderson's flank and back after he was brought out of the jail unit and collapsed in a hallway.
She also said the inmate was in severe respiratory distress; was bleeding from the nose, mouth and ears; had a large bruised area on the top of his head; and both his eyes were swollen.
Kyle Williams, the defence lawyer for Carridice, suggested to the nurse that Anderson's wounds were only two or three centimetres deep, suggesting they were superficial.
The nurse told the court that Anderson, while conscious, was very distressed, and she said she had struggled to calm him before paramedics arrived to bring him to hospital for treatment.
“(Anderson) was extremely agitated," she testified. "At points, very hard to settle. (He was) struggling to breath, anxious, exhausted."
The trial continues Tuesday with the doctor who treated Anderson expected to testify.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2021.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press