The feud between Steven Neville and Ryan Dwyer may have been about money, but not just a $65 debt, the defence argued Thursday.
“This isn’t about $65, is it? defence lawyer Peter Ralph asked Dwyer at Neville’s trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court.
“It’s about you getting your drug business back and getting Mr. Neville out, isn’t it?”
Dwyer denied it, but Ralph continued on the offensive, accusing Dwyer of being the aggressor and planning an attack on Neville — a man who used to be his best friend.
Neville is suspected of stabbing Dwyer and Doug Flynn on Oct. 9, 2010, on Carlisle Drive in Paradise.
Dwyer suffered stab wounds to his sides and arms, but recovered. Flynn was killed, having been stabbed in the temple and chest.
Neville faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Neville’s lawyers are arguing Neville acted in self defence against Dwyer and Flynn, who had been harassing and threatening him for months.
It was said to have been sparked by an ongoing conflict between the men over $65 that Neville owed to Dwyer’s younger brother.
Dwyer had testified earlier in the week that Neville offered to pay his brother back in cocaine instead of money. Dwyer said that angered him because he didn’t want his 16-year-old brother getting into that kind of lifestyle.
However, Ralph presented a series of texts, he said, suggest that Dwyer planned to return to the business of selling drugs.
Dwyer exchanged texts with a drug dealer he referred to as Nick D — “D for drugs,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer admitted once he got out of selling drugs in the summer of 2010, money was tight, and he was thinking about getting back at it.
Ralph pointed out that Dwyer started bad-mouthing Neville, who already worked for Nick D selling drugs, suggesting Neville was a rat.
“Your buddy Neville is going around bragging and telling everyone where you work,” Dwyer texted Nick D on Sept. 6, 2010.
Nick D texted Dwyer back and asked why two men — Lyndon Butler and Chris Rodd — were after Neville. Dwyer told him it was because Neville is “running his mouth,” talking about them.
In a text to Nick D on Sept. 18, 2010, Dwyer asked him to meet to chat about the possibility of getting back in the business.
On Sept. 30, Dwyer texted Nick D to tell him Neville had sprayed him and Flynn with bear mace.
Ralph suggested Dwyer was set on “getting Neville.”
He pointed out that a text message from Ryan Dwyer’s younger brother, sent Oct. 5, 2010, three days before the stabbings, indicated they intended to attack Neville and one of his friends.
The text read: “Some shit goin down this weekend alright. We’re making a master plan for both them (homophobic slur).”
Ryan Dwyer writes back, “hahaha. I already got the plans.”
Ralph also said that hours before the stabbing, Dwyer changed his Facebook status, using a quote from rapper Notorious B.I.G.’s lyrics, which was changed slightly by Dwyer.
“Kick in the door, wavin’ the .44, All you heard was Granny Neville, saying don’t hit me no more.” (Actual lyric is: “Kick in the door, wavin’ the four-four, All you heard was Poppa don’t hit me no more.”
“That’s a violent song,” Ralph said.
“Most rap songs are,” Dwyer replied.
Shortly after Dwyer posted those lyrics, Flynn changed his Facebook status to include lyrics from another rap song, A-S-A-P by T.I. — “I’m a blow him off the map A-S-A-P.”
When asked about whether the men had conspired to do that, Dwyer replied, “No, we were just listening to rap that day.”
Ralph suggested the Facebook posting was Dwyer’s way of trying to “flush Neville out” and added, “You wanted to get him.”
But Dwyer said it was “just a cheap shot” aimed at Neville.
“If I wanted to threaten him, I would’ve texted him or called him.”
Ralph also pointed to a number of statements Dwyer had made to police a few days after the stabbing, as well as statements he made on the stand last year at the preliminary inquiry.
Ralph said some of what Dwyer said was different from his testimony at the trial.
For example, a few days after the stabbing, Dwyer told police he didn’t see Neville in the car which had passed them on Carlisle Drive that night, but assumed it was him.
On Tuesday, while on the stand at the trial, he testified he definitely saw Neville glaring at him.
Dwyer said things weren’t clear days after the stabbing because he was on morphine in the hospital.
Dwyer also told police he only saw the knife when Neville was stabbing Flynn. At the trial, he said he saw the knife right away when Neville immediately began stabbing him.
Ralph also suggested that Dwyer may have been too drunk that night to recall what happened.
“I do remember the big things,” Dwyer said.
However, Ralph pointed out that a man, who had lived at the house next to where the stabbing happened, told police that he saw one man chasing another man and that the two began fist fighting and that a third man came to one of the men’s defence.
Dwyer said the witness must’ve been mistaken.
After three days of questioning, Dwyer finished his testimony.
Mark Bowen — a friend of both Neville and Dwyer — then took the stand.
Bowen was at the house where a party was held on Carlisle Drive the night of the stabbing.
He saw some of what happened, but mostly the end result, with Flynn lying on the sidewalk bleeding.
“I didn’t see the extent of how bad it was until I got closer,” said Bowen, who said he held Flynn’s head upright until the ambulance arrived.
As he spoke, Flynn’s mother, who was in the courtroom, pulled a tissue from a tissue box and sobbed.
Bowen also said that weeks before the stabbing, Neville had showed him a knife that looked exactly like the knife used in the stabbing.
“We were out for a smoke and he said, ‘Check this out,’ and he hauled it out of his pocket.”
Two men who were said to have been in the car with Neville the night of the stabbing are next to testify.