Folker murder trial takes another twist

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Jury dismissed until Tuesday as judge, lawyers deal with another legal issue

David Folker’s murder trial is only three days old and already has seen more twists and turns than a TV crime drama.

Accused murderer David Folker talks with defence lawyer Scott Hurley before the start of proceedings on Day 3 of his trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Thursday. Family members of victim Ann Marie Shirran were in the courtroom, as well as Folker’s mother (front row, far right).

When the session was called to order in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Thursday morning and the jurors were in place, the judge told them another legal issue had come up.

“I’ve indicated to you before that there would be issues like this,” Justice Wayne Dymond told the eight men and four women of the jury.

“It’s part of the procedure.”

Dymond didn’t tell them what the issue was, but said it would be dealt with today in their absence.

With Monday being a holiday, he dismissed the jury until Tuesday. Dymond and lawyers will discuss the issue today, but the contents of their discussion will be banned from publication.

Folker is accused of murdering his 32-year-old girlfriend, Ann Marie Shirran, the mother of his young son, on July 18, 2010. He faces charges of second-degree murder and improperly or indecently interfering with or performing an indignity to a human body.

Thursday’s interruption was just one of many developments that have taken place since the trial began Tuesday.

The most shocking development happened Wednesday, when Folker’s lawyers told the court that Shirran died after she and Folker had a physical altercation.

Folker admitted to dumping her body in Cappahayden and lying to police about what happened. However, he’s maintaining his not-guilty pleas.

Those revelations prompted Dymond to observe, “It’s been 40 years at this business for me and this is a first.”

Dymond said he has never been involved in 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.”

It means the trial, which was initially set for eight weeks, will be drastically shorter, although it’s not clear by how much.

On Monday, the day the trial was supposed to start, there was an issue with the jury. Following jury selection on Oct. 2, the jury was originally comprised of six men and six women.

However, before the Crown could give its opening statements, four male jurors asked for and were granted exemptions for medical and other reasons.

That resulted in the two alternates having to move into the box as full-fledged jurors. It also required another selection process the following day for two additional jurors, who were chosen from the original panel, which was recalled.

When Shirran disappeared in July 2010, it was Folker who reportedly first told the authorities she was missing.

She was reportedly last seen near their Kilbride home.

Campers discovered her remains on Sept. 2, 2010, in the woods south of Cappahayden on the Southern Shore. Folker was arrested less than 24 hours after police revealed it was Shirran whose body had been found.

The trial was originally set to start more than a year and a half ago, in February 2012, but Folker’s lawyer at the time, Bob Simmonds, had to drop the case, citing his schedule and financial reasons.

Folker is not in custody. He’s been free since December 2010, when he was granted bail on the condition that he live with his mother in Nova Scotia.

He’s staying in the St. John’s area while the trial is underway.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Kilbride, Nova Scotia.He

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