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Jimmy Wise told police they would not be able to recover DNA from Collison's bones

Jimmy Wise appears in court in Cornwall to face first-degree murder charge on Friday, June 1, 2018.
Jimmy Wise appears in court in Cornwall to face first-degree murder charge on Friday, June 1, 2018.

“I guess Wise isn’t so wise, eh?”

According to an OPP officer who testified Tuesday, that was the answer that James Henry “Jimmy” Wise gave to detectives investigating the death of Ray Collison when they told him that DNA evidence could in fact be extracted from old bones.

Staff Sergeant Anthony Donnelly told Wise’s second-degree murder trial that he took part in an informal interview with Wise in Winchester, Ont. on May 6, 2014.

It was one month after Collison’s skeletal remains were discovered in a drainage culvert. Wise was not yet a suspect in the case, Donnelly said, but was believed to have information about Collison.

In the interview, which lasted more than an hour, Wise told Donnelly and his partner, Det. Const. Jeffrey Blackstock, that the daughter of an acquaintance had found Collison’s skull. “He continued by saying that the police and media lied about finding an actual body,” Donnelly said, reading from his police notebook. “He stated that police are all f…ing liars and he normally doesn’t talk to the police, especially the local police.”

Wise told them, Donnelly said, that he did not believe police could conduct DNA testing on Collison because he would have no blood left.

“When Detective Blackstock told him DNA could be extracted from bones,” Donnelly testified, “Mr. Wise said quote, ‘I guess Wise isn’t so wise, eh?’ end quote.”

Wise initially told Donnelly and his partner to “f… off” when they first approached him on the street in Winchester, the officer testified. But Wise later agreed to speak to the detectives as long as they didn’t record him and gave him some paper.

Wise wrote down the name of Ivan Merkley, manager of Chesterville’s McCloskey Hotel, and suggested police talk to him since he would know more. But Wise also told the officers “not listen to him (Merkley) because he’s a liar and police should read between the lines.”

Wise drew a map, Donnelly said, indicating where Collison kept a truck and trailer parked on County Road 3, on a property owned by Garnett Crump. He also admitted removing the truck and trailer from that property sometime after Collison went missing.

Wise told them he had sold Collison the truck, and took it back because Collison had never paid for it, Donnelly said. Wise also said Crump had spoken to Collison’s mother, who had given him permission to remove the trailer.

(In an audio statement, entered into evidence Tuesday, Crump said he didn’t speak to Collison’s mother about the trailer and did not give Wise permission to take it.)

Wise told OPP investigators that he cut up Collison’s trailer for scrap metal and burned the rest of it after injuring himself while trying to repair a hole in its roof. According to Donnelly, Wise told the officers that he hurt his scrotum when he fell and smashed it on the trailer’s roof and ladder.

(The trailer was later found intact in Winchester, court has heard.)

Donnelly told court that Wise told them he “disliked messy people,” and kept himself and his apartment clean. He also professed to disliking people, Donnelly said, who did not get out of their cars to talk to him.

On cross-examination by defence lawyer Ian Carter, Donnelly conceded that Wise was polite and co-operative throughout the interview after initially rebuffing the officers.

In his testimony about the same encounter, Det. Const. Blackstock told court that Wise’s “whole demeanour changed” during the interview when he talked about Collison getting drunk. He was also angered when he talked about Collison failing to get out of his car: “He just seemed to get upset,” Blackstock said. “He just seemed to become angry about that, like he was being disrespectful.”

On cross-examination, Donnelly admitted that he made no notes about Wise’s demeanour after conducting the interview.

Wise is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Collison, 58, a handyman with mental health and addiction issues. Collison was reported missing in September 2009 but his decomposed remains were not discovered until April 2014. An autopsy revealed he had been shot at least three times from behind.

Crown attorneys Jason Pilon and Michael Purcell are prosecuting the case.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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