Minutes after arriving home and finding his mother beaten to death in her bed, the 16-year-old Winnipeg boy placed a frantic call to 911.
"My mom… something happened to her," the sobbing teen told a 911 operator at 10:43 a.m., March 26, 2019.
"There’s blood all over," he cried.
But that call, a recording of which was played for a jury Tuesday morning, was part of a calculated ruse to divert attention from himself, prosecutors alleged in an opening address at the now 19-year-old man’s first degree-murder trial.
The Free Press is not naming the 51-year-old victim as it would identify the accused, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"You are not going to hear anyone say they saw (the accused) kill (his mother), but when you consider the evidence in its totality through the lens of common sense and human experience, the only reasonable conclusion is that (he) killed his mother and he planned it from the start," Crown attorney Erika Dolcetti told jurors.
“You are not going to hear anyone say they saw (the accused) kill (his mother), but when you consider the evidence in its totality through the lens of common sense and human experience, the only reasonable conclusion is that (he) killed his mother and he planned it from the start.” – Crown attorney Erika Dolcetti
Jurors heard the woman, who shared custody of her son with her ex-husband, had been off work for several months due to a physical injury and mental-health issues. Text messages found on her phone revealed the "unusual" relationship she had with her son, Dolcetti said.
"We realize it will be difficult to be able to understand how a son could do that to his mother and we may never understand the ‘why,’" Dolcetti said. "You will see from their text messages to each other… that while (the victim) was a devoted mother, (she) demanded that (the accused) do a lot for her and was in constant communication with him. Was this why? We can’t say. What we can say is when you look at all the evidence there is only one person who could have killed her while she was asleep."
A day before the killing, the first day of spring break, the accused bought his mother a cake and flowers, with a note reading: "These are for being awesome," jurors heard. That night the teen cooked dinner for his mother, after which the two watched the Jets game on television with her boyfriend.
After the boyfriend left for home, the two continued to exchange text messages until 1 a.m., marking the last recorded communication from the woman, Dolcetti said.
The accused and his mother were alone in the house when he left at 9:08 a.m. to take their dog for an unscheduled visit to pet daycare, something the boy rarely did, Dolcetti said. In a text to his mother delivered seven minutes earlier, and to which there was no reply, the accused said he was taking the dog "to his happy place," one of several moves Dolcetti alleged the accused took to manufacture an alibi.
In a second text to his mother at 9:19 a.m., the accused said he was going to Walmart. He then texted some friends to see if they wanted to go to St. Vital Shopping Mall. The accused arrived at the mall, waited a half-hour for it to open and left before visiting the Walmart, Dolcetti said. He then visited a different Walmart and a Canadian Tire before returning home at 10:38 a.m. Five minutes later, he called 911.
"None of these things were a coincidence, none were impulsive, each was part of an elaborate plan, a deliberate plan, a plan to divert suspicion, create an alibi and get rid of evidence," Dolcetti said.
Police interviewed the accused the day of the killing, at which time he was considered to be a witness, not a suspect, Dolcetti said. In the interview, which was recorded on video, the accused confirmed no one aside from his mother was in the house when he left that morning and that he may have left the door unlocked.
What the accused didn’t know, Dolcetti alleged, is that police would soon uncover security video from neighbouring houses showing the accused was the only person to leave or enter the home after the victim’s boyfriend left the previous evening.
“None of these things were a coincidence, none were impulsive, each was part of an elaborate plan, a deliberate plan, a plan to divert suspicion, create an alibi and get rid of evidence.” – Crown attorney Erika Dolcetti
A police officer testified Tuesday he arrived at the victim’s house to find the front door ajar and the accused sitting on a bench inside crying.
"I asked: ‘Where is she, where is she?’ and he pointed to a bedroom," Det. Sgt Logan Binda told jurors.
Binda said he smelled what he thought to be bleach when he entered the house. "When I entered the bedroom the smell became overwhelming."
Binda said he found the victim in bed, on her back, with the covers pulled up to her chest. "Her face was beaten badly, almost unrecognizable," he said.
Binda said he did not detect a pulse and performed CPR until firefighters arrived and took over.
"There was not any stiffness, she was warm to the touch," he said.
“There was not any stiffness, she (victim) was warm to the touch.” – Det. Sgt Logan Binda
Binda said there was fluid on the bed that appeared to be bleach and coagulated blood, as well as a "significant amount of blood on the bedroom wall, ceiling, closet door and hallway wall.
The victim’s arm and fingers were broken in what a pathologist will testify were likely defensive injuries, Dolcetti said.
Jurors will hear testimony that the accused’s DNA matched DNA found under the victim’s fingernails, Dolcetti said. As well, a bottle of bleach found under the kitchen sink had blood on it matching the victim’s DNA and DNA on the bottle cap matching that of the accused, she said.
The trial is scheduled to continue for five weeks.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.