Defence asks for setover in murder case, but won’t say why

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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For the second time in two days, another development has stalled the trial of a man suspected of killing his girlfriend.

David Folker awaits the start of the opening day of his trial Tuesday at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

But this time, lawyers are keeping quiet about the reason for the delay.

The request was made by lawyers for accused murderer David Folker Tuesday afternoon just after court was called into session in the afternoon at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

“A legal issue has arisen that needs to be addressed,” defence counsel Jason Edwards told the judge.

He asked Justice Wayne Dymond for the case to be set over until this afternoon.

“It’s not that we’re not ready,” Edwards added.

“Can you guarantee you’ll be ready to go tomorrow?” Dymond asked.

“Absolutely,” Edwards replied. “Regardless of what happens, we’ll be ready.”

Dymond agreed to have the trial resume at 2:30 p.m. today.

When approached by reporters after proceedings, neither Edwards nor co-counsel Scott Hurley would reveal what the legal issue was. Crown prosecutors Lloyd Strickland and Iain Hollett also wouldn’t comment.

When the trial resumes this afternoon, the defence is expected to give its opening statement.

The prosecution presented its opening remarks Tuesday morning.

Strickland gave an outline of the evidence the jury is expected to hear over the next eight weeks. He said the overall evidence will prove Folker murdered his common-law wife, 32-year-old Ann Marie Shir­ran, in July 2010, and dumped her body in a wooded area more than an hour’s drive away.

He said the reason was that Shirran had planned to leave him and restrict access to their one-year-old son.

“David Folker settled the issue on his own terms, killed Miss Shirran with a fatal blow to the head and drove all the way to Cappahayden (to dispose of her remains),” Strickland said.

Folker faces charges of second-degree murder and improperly or indecently interfering with or performing an indignity to a human body.

Strickland told jurors that Shirran and Folker met in Folker’s home province, Nova Scotia. In early 2010, they and their young son moved to St. John’s, where they rented a house in Kilbride. However, the relationship was troubled, Strickland said.

“It was clear that by July, she didn’t have strong feelings (for Folker),” he said.

Strickland said friends and family will testify that Shirran had planned to end the relationship and wanted to decide how much access Folker would have to his son.

“She intended to raise (the child) alone,” Strickland said.

Shirran disappeared July 18,  2010. Folker called police the next day to report she was missing. That call to police is expected to be played in court.

Folker told police he and Shirran had an argument, and Shirran threw up her arms and walked out. She was never seen again.

An extensive search began for the woman. Police found no activity on Shirran’s bank account or on her cellphone. There had been reports of sightings, but they turned out to be mistaken identity.

A week later, with still no sign of Shirran, police took a more detailed statement from Folker. That will also likely be played in court.

During that interview, Folker made a comment that made police suspicious. He told officers Shirran left the house with her cellphone, “yet didn’t make the effort to call her,” Strickland pointed out. He had called family members, but not Shirran.

At that point, the RNC decided to follow Folker around town.

In early August 2010, police saw Folker take a car for a test drive.

They followed him, lost him momentarily, but shortly afterwards spotted the car parked in a desolate area at an intersection of Blackhead Road and Maddox Cove

Road.

Six days later, he went to another dealership and took another car for a test drive. He once again returned to Blackhead Road. A short time later, officers saw him come out of the woods. He was wearing rubber gloves.

On Aug. 22, police searched the Blackhead Road area and found a collection of items in the woods, including a cellphone, glasses and a purse. The personal identification inside the purse was Shirran’s.

Police also found two large moving blankets, one of which had blood stains. Strickland said DNA testing linked the material to Shirran.

The items also included a pair of white sneakers, which officers later found out were Folker’s.

“RNC concluded that they strongly believed Ann Marie Shirran was a victim of foul play,” Strickland said.

A search of the couple’s Kilbride apartment turned up another moving blanket.

The 32-year-old woman was reportedly last seen near their home.

On Sept. 2, 2010, campers found a human skull in the woods south of Cappahayden on the Southern Shore, about a

1 1/2-hour drive from St. John’s.

When police arrived, more remains were found, along with a utility knife. Tests, including ones using dental records, revealed they were Shirran’s remains.

Strickland told the jury that the province’s chief medical examiner, Simon Avis, determined Shirran was killed by blunt force to her head.

“She was therefore a victim of homicide,” Strickland said.

Strickland said when police searched Folker’s home and a storage unit later that day, they found utility knives that were the same model as the one found next to the remains.

Folker was arrested less than 24 hours later. He’s been free since December 2010, when he was granted bail.

Strickland told jurors the case is made of pieces which, when put together, prove Folker is guilty.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the jury was determined for the second time.

On Monday, four jury members asked for and were granted exemptions. With the alternates filling two spots, two more were added Tuesday for a total of 12 — eight women and four men.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Newfoundland Supreme Court

Geographic location: Kilbride, Blackhead Road, Nova Scotia

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