Armed robbery trial of Amanda Maher and James Glasco gets underway in St. John's
Monday marked RNC Const. Angela Davison's second time on the witness stand in a week, telling the court about her investigation into an armed robbery. Same location, same general details, different suspect.
Last week it was the trial of Jeffrey Earle, accused of holding up the then-Ultramar station on Freshwater Road last July while saying he had a gun. This week there are two accused charged with holding up the same gas station last Dec. 11, one of them allegedly clearing the way first and holding open the door for the other, who's said to have then come in and smashed the counter with a baseball bat.
Davison's first step, after reviewing information from the responding officers as well as a statement the now-Irving store clerk had given them, was to have a look at surveillance video captured inside and outside the store. Prosecutor Jennifer Colford played the video in court Monday.
While someone appeared to be hiding around the corner of the building, a woman in glasses, a hat and a winter coat was seen entering the store around 4:30 a.m. and bringing a can of Pepsi to the clerk behind the counter. Appearing friendly and polite, she asked the clerk to check a lottery ticket for her, paid for the drink and bought a few chocolate Icy Squares from a container in front of her. She then asked for a straw and followed the clerk's directions to the other side of the store to get one, before leaving.
"You have yourself a good evening, sir," she said.
On the way out, the woman was seen holding the door open for a man who was coming in while wearing a bandanna over the bottom part of his face and brandishing a baseball bat. He approached the counter, used the bat to smash the glass, then yelled at the cashier to put money into a book bag he thrust at him.
"Cash, cash, cash, now!" the robber screamed. "All your cash! Cigarettes, come on!"
The robber asked for more cigarettes and directed the clerk to a certain kind. He then ran from the store in the same direction the woman had been walking minutes earlier.
Davison selected the clearest still photos of the two suspects' faces from the surveillance video and sent them to other members of the RNC, asking if any of them could identify the man and woman. At least two officers replied to Davison's email, saying they believed they knew who the woman was: Amanda Maher, 34. James Glasco, 45, was also identified as a possible suspect.
Davison and a colleague visited Maher at home, where she lived with her father. Maher confirmed she had been at the Irving early that morning and had bought a Pepsi for her dad, who was ill. She didn't know Glasco, she reportedly told police.
Davison said she asked Maher who owned a pair of men's sneakers in the porch, and Maher told her they were her cousin's. It was at that moment, the police investigator said, that she noticed blood and needle marks on Maher's arm.
"We asked to speak to her father, and as he came out she said to him, 'I went to the store for you.' We stopped her from saying anything else to him," Davison told the court. Maher was emotional and crying at the time, she said, and obviously upset and nervous.
After chatting with Maher's father, Davison and her colleague went to their vehicle, where they reviewed the evidence in the case so far.
"The answers she had given us were not consistent with the information we had gotten from her father," the police officer testified. "We discussed her not being truthful with us, her behaviour in the video, and we also discussed the totality of evidence. We decided to arrest her."
The officers went back to the home, but Maher didn't want to come to the door, choosing to speak to the officers through the front window. The investigators were eventually allowed inside.
While there, they heard a sniffle coming from a bedroom. It was allegedly Glasco, who was sitting on the bed. He was arrested as well.
Maher is charged with robbery, theft under $5,000 and four breaches of court orders, while Glasco is charged with robbery, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, wearing a disguise with the intention to commit a crime, theft under $5,000, breaching court orders, as well as a number of Highway Traffic Act offences.
Representing Maher, defence lawyer Ben Curties said his client hadn't wanted to tell police Glasco was in the house because she was afraid they were going to arrest him in connection with a prior shoplifting incident.
He questioned Davison about the surveillance video from inside the gas station, and asked her what it was about Maher's behaviour that gave her the impression she was nervous in the store.
Davison pointed to parts of the video where the woman is seen drumming her fingers on the counter, and looking repeatedly toward the front window. She noted the woman also held the door for the male suspect, even though he had his face partially covered and was rushing into the store with a bat, and pointed out the woman had paused outside the store to look back inside at about the same time the man smashed the counter.
"And you find that suspicious?" Curties asked Davison.
"I find it suspicious that she sees an armed robbery occur and doesn't call police," Davison replied. "There's no obligation to call police, however she did witness a man with a book bag and a mask smashing the counter with a baseball bat and then 10 hours later is found with the gentleman I think is responsible."
Curties reminded the officer that Maher had been on conditions from the court at the time, and asked Davison if that might be a plausible reason why Maher didn't call police.
"Possibly," the investigator answered.
When it came to the woman's behaviour inside the store as captured on video, Curties asked Davison if it might be possible she had simply been looking around for the straws. There was a drink cooler next to the window, he pointed out.
"You think there was no chance that (the male suspect in the video) was someone who didn't know Ms. Maher, who opportunistically waited for her to come out?" Curties asked.
"No," Davison replied. "I believe that she assisted in the armed robbery."
Curties asked Davison why police didn't compile a photo lineup to show to the store clerk or call in the K9 unit to follow footprints in the snow at the scene.
Davison said it was still snowing at the time and the tracks were partially covered. A photo lineup would have likely been compiled if she hadn't identified Glasco by his distinctive nose and eyes in the surveillance video, she said.
The trial continues Tuesday with cross-examination of Davison by Michelle Elliott, Glasco's lawyer.