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Burnt hammer, charred knife found in Mount Pearl home after standoff, police say as Justin Wiseman's trial begins

Justin Wiseman speaks to his lawyer, Karen Reyner, during a break in his trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday. On the witness stand in the background, RNC Const. Pat Hickey, lead investigator in Wiseman’s case, wears the blue nitrile gloves he donned earlier to pick up a piece of evidence - a charred knife - and show it to the court.
Justin Wiseman speaks to his lawyer, Karen Reyner, during a break in his trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday. On the witness stand in the background, RNC Const. Pat Hickey, lead investigator in Wiseman’s case, wears the blue nitrile gloves he donned earlier to pick up a piece of evidence - a charred knife - and show it to the court. - Tara Bradbury

Wiseman is also charged with an armed robbery of a convenience store, making off with $417.80 plus cigarettes

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The robber, dressed head to toe in black, including a mask over his most of his face, entered the Mount Pearl convenience store just after 8 a.m. on March 13, 2018, jumping out of the passenger side of a stolen truck and leaving the door open.

Inside Marie's Mini Mart, surveillance cameras captured the man appearing to carry a hammer and a cloth shopping bag as he hopped over the counter to get to the till, where the female clerk was standing.

The video shows what seems to be a knife on the counter as the man rummages through the cash drawers, stuffing money into the bag. As he turned to ransack the cigarette cupboard, he dropped the hammer on the floor.

On his way out the door, the man is seen gesturing to the clerk with something in his hand, though no audio was captured.

The woman later told police the man had called her "Sweetie" and had promised not to hurt her during the robbery.

Justin Wiseman is wheeled to a waiting ambulance by Eastern Health paramedics after he was taken into custody by the RNC following a six-hour standoff at a house on Jersey Avenue in Mount Pearl.
Justin Wiseman is wheeled to a waiting ambulance by Eastern Health paramedics after he was taken into custody by the RNC following a six-hour standoff at a house on Jersey Avenue in Mount Pearl.

The next day, seeing a photo of Justin Wiseman on the front page of The Telegram, the woman told police she was sure he was the robber, and could tell by the tattoos on his face.

That photo was taken the same day as the robbery, at the moment Wiseman was removed from a burning home on Jersey Avenue in Mount Pearl and lifted on a stretcher into the back of an ambulance, his eyes half closed and mouth open in an apparent cry. Wiseman had been out of jail for about two weeks at that point, and police had been looking to arrest him for violating his parole conditions.

Barricading himself inside the home, Wiseman had reportedly refused to come out for six hours, at one point calling the NTV newsroom and demanding reporters tell his story as the RNC's tactical unit attempted to negotiate with him from the street. His girlfriend was inside the residence with him, he is alleged to have said, though he insisted she was free to leave at any time. Two other women had already left by the front door of the home at that point.

"I want to figure out what I want to do for the next few months or years, whatever, while I'm locked up," a man identifying himself as Wiseman told NTV in a recorded interview, which was broadcast that evening. He claimed to have a gun. "If (police) can't appreciate that and give me that time, I'm going to let her walk out that door and then I'm going to put one in the chamber and put one in my head.

"We used to be babies and how the f--- did I turn into the man that I am today? I turned into the man I am today because of my surroundings, because of my upbringing, because of the people that influenced me in my life. I don't like being like this. I'm not this person, but it seems like every f---ing corner that comes my way is a corner that wants to put me back behind bars."

A clip from the news broadcast and the photo from the March 14, 2018 front page of The Telegram were presented to the court as evidence as Wiseman's trial got underway in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Tuesday.

Wiseman, 27, has pleaded guilty to charges of arson and possessing a weapon (a knife) in connection with the Jersey Avenue standoff. A hearing is scheduled on those charges for September. The current court proceedings deal with charges related to the robbery of the Moores Drive Marie's Mini Mart while wearing a mask and wielding a knife and a hammer, to which he has pleaded not guilty. He's also facing a charge of possessing a stolen Toyota Tacoma pickup in the days leading up to the standoff. Police say the pickup was the same truck used in the armed robbery.

Wiseman was treated in hospital for minor injuries after the standoff, and taken to Her Majesty's Penitentiary to serve the remainder of his sentence after the parole violation. He has been in custody awaiting trial ever since.

Crown prosecutor Kathleen O'Reilly called a number of witnesses to testify during the first day of Wiseman's trial, mostly RNC officers who had collected evidence from the convenience store after the robbery as well as from the Jersey Avenue home once the fire had been extinguished and a warrant had been obtained to search it. The stolen truck was also located and towed to RNC headquarters for examination.

The robbery suspect had been wearing gloves and had left no fingerprints in the store, the officers told the court, and a partial footprint wasn't enough to be matched with a particular brand of shoe. With the help of the store manager, investigators learned the robber had gotten away with $417.80 in cash and $1,209.87 worth of tobacco products.

In the truck, police found one pack of cigarettes, a number of cigarette package sleeves, rolling papers and some cigarette butts, as well as a gas can, glass fragments, a spoon with a white powder residue on it, and a knife with a blue and black handle.

RNC Const. Pamela Pike of the forensic identification division testified she had been among the first police officers to enter the Mount Pearl residence with fire investigators, and had noted burnt debris in a living room fireplace. She took photos, which she presented to the court.

"There were what appeared to be electric cords, including one cord still attached to a wall charger," Pike said. "Even though it was pretty burnt up, there was something that appeared to resemble a cellphone."

The head and partially burnt wooden handle of a hammer was found among the debris, Pike said, and a charred knife was located on the floor next to the fireplace.

RNC Const. Pat Hickey, primary investigator in the case, donned blue nitrile gloves to pick up the knife as he stood in the witness box, holding it out in front of him so Justice Robert Stack could see it. Hickey said he had also seen hair clippers on the floor in the living room.

"I had been told Mr. Wiseman had shaved his head between the time of the incident and his arrest," Hickey said.

In the prisoner box, Wiseman sported his hair shaved on the sides and long on top, with a set of clippers tattooed on his right temple next to the words, "Gentleman's Cut." A tattoo of what appeared to be a straight-edge barber razor ran down the side of his face at his hairline and onto the side of his chin. He listened intently without comment as his trial proceeded, speaking to his lawyer, Karen Rehner, in whispers when she approached him with questions.

Wiseman's trial continues Wednesday and is expected to wrap up Thursday.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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