Folker guilty of manslaughter, defence says

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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There's no disputing David Folker killed his girlfriend.
"He takes full responsibility for that," his lawyer, Jason Edwards, told the jury Wednesday.
But Folker is guilty of manslaughter, not murder, he said.
The Crown, however, contends it's just another lie Folker is concocting to escape the harsher punishment.

Accused murderer David Folker at his murder trial at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s. Wednesday, final arguments were made in court. — Telegram file photo

"Who can trust the word of David Folker?" prosecutor Lloyd Strickland said.

"He lied for weeks and weeks."

Today, the eight women and four men of the jury will be instructed by Justice Wayne Dymond as to what evidence to consider and what laws to follow in deciding Folker's fate.

After the judge's instructions, the jury will deliberate to reach a verdict.

On Wednesday at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's, jurors heard lawyers' closing arguments, summarizing their cases and the evidence put forward during the monthlong trial.

Folker is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ann Marie Shirran, the mother of their young son, on July 18, 2010. He's also charged with interfering with a dead human body.

At the time, Folker had claimed Shirran walked out of their apartment after an argument and didn't come back. He had said he didn't know where she was.

However, on the second day of the trial in early October, the 43-year-old admitted she died as a result of a physical altercation between them. Folker also conceded that he dumped her body in a wooded area near Cappahayden and disposed of her personal items in the woods of Blackhead Road in St. John's.

After he was arrested in September 2010, when campers found the 32-year-old woman's remains, Folker continued to lie to police and said he had nothing to do with it.

However, even after his admission, Folker has maintained he's innocent of murder because he never meant to kill Shirran.

When Folker took the stand last week, he testified that on the night of July 18, 2010, Shirran attacked him. He said he grabbed her by the neck and threw her with all his might to get her off him so he could tend to their child. He said he saw the crib gate was down.

Folker said when he came out of their son's room minutes later, Shirran was dead on the floor. He said he panicked, put her in the bathtub, then wrapped her in moving blankets, carried her to his SUV and drove to the Southern Shore to dispose of her body.

Medical experts concluded Shirran likely died from two fractures to her skull.

The defence argued that the first fracture was caused when Shirran was thrown. They said the second happened when Folker tripped on the step and dropped her on the pavement while carrying her out to his SUV.

"Sometimes actions have unintended consequences," Edwards said.

Folker said he decided to reveal this at the trial because he knew he was facing jail time and had no chance of getting custody of his son.

He told the jury that since there were no witnesses, Folker is the only one who knows what happened the night Shirran died. He said there was nothing in the evidence at trial to contradict what Folker said.

Edwards called Shirran's death a tragedy and after viewing disturbing images of her remains, hearing the testimony of her family and friends and hearing about the couple's young son, Edwards said he understands it would be difficult to not allow sympathies and prejudice to affect how jurors feel about Folker.

"However, you must push that aside," he said. "You must not let emotion or sympathies cloud your judgment."

He said the prosecution has no hard evidence to prove Folker intentionally killed Shirran.

"There's lots of speculation, lots of theories, lots of maybes," Edwards said. "But where's is the evidence? It's not here."

He said the testimony of Shirran's family, friends and police officers were not useful in determining what happened the night she died.

Even the medical experts, including Dr. Simon Avis, could not positively say what happened.

"Dr. Avis has theories about how she died," Edwards said. "However, he was quite clear he doesn't know how she died."

Since there were only skeletal remains, Edwards said Avis couldn't say in all certainty if the fractures were the cause of death.

Edwards stressed that Folker's actions after Shirran died can't be used to prove he intended to murder her.

Edwards reminded jurors, "Even if you believe he's probably guilty or likely guilty, that's not enough to convict."

But the Crown pointed out that there are too many holes in Folker's story.

"It's a little too self-serving," Strickland said.

He said it didn't make sense that Folker would notice a crib gate down in the middle of a physical altercation. Nor did it make sense that there was no blood on his clothes after he held her and carried her to the bathtub.

He said it was also unlikely that Shirran's head hit the pavement since Folker testified that she was wrapped from head to toe.

"Moving blankets are designed to protect what you're moving," Strickland said.

He said the prosecution wanted to show the jury the full extent of the investigation, including the numerous resources used. He said they also wanted them to see the full extent of what Folker did afterwards to escape responsibility.

"From the time he wrapped up Ann Marie Shirran to dumping her body, David Folker lied and lied and lied," Strickland said.

He told the jury that a man who lied for so long can't be trusted and that they should not believe what he says.

"Based on the lies of 2010," he said, "there's every reason to doubt whatever comes out of his mouth."

 

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

 

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Newfoundland Supreme Court

Geographic location: St. John's, Blackhead Road

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