Admits he dumped body and lied to police, but maintains he’s not guilty
The murder trial for a man accused of killing his girlfriend suddenly got a lot shorter, because David Folker has admitted Ann Marie Shirran died as a result of a physical altercation between the two on July 18, 2010.
© — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
David Folker speaks with his lawyer Jason Edwards as he waits for his trial to resume in courtroom 4 at Supreme Court of Newfoundland Wednesday.
Folker also conceded that he dumped her body in Cappahayden, disposed of her personal items in a wooded area on Blackhead Road in St. John’s and then lied to police about what happened.
The shocking revelation was made Wednesday by the defence at the start of proceedings in Day 2 of Folker’s trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
“You will hear from Mr. Folker,” defence lawyer Scott Hurley told the jury. “And you will hear what happened on the evening of July 18, 2010.
“It will help explain things and give you a backdrop to the events of July 18 (2010).
“I ask that you to keep an open mind.”
But while Folker has admitted to all that, he’s maintaining his not-guilty pleas to charges of second-degree murder and improperly or indecently interfering with or performing an indignity to a human body.
The unusual legal development even took Justice Wayne Dymond by surprise.
“It’s been 40 years at this business for me and this is a first,” said Dymond, who said he has never experienced a case in which an accused admitted to such substantial facts.
“The Crown did not know this was coming. I didn’t know this was coming.”
To clear up any confusion, the judge explained to the jury what the admission means in the case.
According to Section 655 of the Criminal Code of Canada, an accused person “may admit any fact alleged against him for the purpose of dispensing with proof thereof,” he explained.
Crown prosecutors Lloyd Strickland and Iain Hollett chose not to comment about the turn of events, but it’s clear it means a change of focus in their case.
Proceedings ended early to give them time to reassess which witnesses they will need to call — now that much of the substantial evidence in the case no longer needs to be proven.
The Crown initially had about 50 witnesses on its list. That number will be cut drastically, as will the length of the trial, which was set for eight weeks. It’s unclear how long it will continue.
“But at the end of the day, you will still have to determine if he’s guilty or not guilty of the offences or any included offence,” the judge told the eight women and four men of the jury.
Dymond said he doesn’t know whether the defence will aim for a lesser charge — manslaughter, for example.
“Until I get that information, I can’t give you direction,” he said. “But the onus is still on the Crown.”
The Crown did question two witnesses Wednesday.
The first called to the stand was Shirran’s mother, Diane Baggs, who gave emotional testimony about her daughter, who died at age 32. She also spoke about the days and weeks following her disappearance.
Baggs told the court that there were hints of problems in the relationship between Shirran and Folker, but her daughter never spoke to her about them.
When asked what Shirran’s relationship was with the couple’s young son, Moses, Baggs broke down crying.
“(The child) was everything to Ann. She was a excellent mother and loved him dearly,” she said.
“She was a very vibrant person.”
The last time she saw her daughter was July 17, 2010, the day before she disappeared.
Two days later, she said, Folker told her on the phone that Shirran left their Kilbride apartment after they had argued. She told him to call police.
“Have you ever known Miss Shirran to leave her son?” Strickland asked Baggs.
“Never,” she replied.
The second witness, Shirran’s friend, Jennifer Dalley, gave more insight into the state of the relationship between Shirran and Folker.
Dalley said that in the two years they were close friends, she and Shirran spoke often about Shirran’s life.
“The relationship was strained,” Dalley said. “She was very unhappy for the whole time I knew her.”
She said Shirran came to her house on July 16, 2010.
“I asked her how things were going, and she said fantastic, because her relationship was over (with Folker),” Dalley said. “She planned to create a business to sell cleaning products.”
Dalley said Shirran told her that she wanted custody of Moses, and she told Folker if he didn’t help financially, he wouldn’t see the child.
“She was ready — ready for the future,” she said. “She felt the decision was the right one.”
In the weeks following Shirran’s disappearance, Dalley said, she spoke to Folker on several occasions.
“He was convinced she was gone, that she was dead,” she said. “He told me she got in the car with acquaintances.”
She said when Folker heard they found remains in Cappahayden, he said he knew they were Ann Marie’s.
“He said, ‘There’s probably an eyeball in her hand,’ meaning she wouldn’t go down without a fight. He said, ‘Nobody reasons with Ann Shirran,’ and that, ‘Lately I’ve been having more success with that.’
“He said, ‘If she had only listened, it wouldn’t have been so messy.’”
Dalley said after the discovery of Shirran’s remains, Folker expected the police to come arrest him.
During the search for Shirran, Dally said, Folker was frustrated with police for being too thorough.
“He said they were doing too much, that she was gone,” she said. “He said police were unwilling to let things go.”
Dalley is expected back on the stand today.