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Defence calls no evidence in Craig Pope murder trial

Craig Pope in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s during his murder trial Friday.
Craig Pope. - Tara Bradbury file photo/The Telegram
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Accused murderer Craig Pope's lawyers have indicated they will not call any evidence at his murder trial.

Once prosecutors Shawn Patten and Jude Hall told the court Monday afternoon they were officially closing their case against Pope, defence lawyers Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan said they would not be calling any witnesses.

Jonathan Collins. - Contributed
Jonathan Collins. - Contributed

Both sides are set to present their closing arguments to the jury Thursday morning, after which Justice Vikas Khaladkar will deliver his charge, instructing the jurors on how to apply the law in the case.

After that, the jurors will be sequestered to deliberate at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court and in a local hotel - without TV, internet or their cellphones - until they reach a verdict in the case.

"Bring your toothbrushes and a change of clothes when you come on Thursday," Khaladkar told the jury members Monday.

Pope, 33, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of 36-year-old Jonathan Collins on Sept. 7, 2017. Collins, a father of two, died of a single deep stab wound that pierced his abdominal aorta, after collapsing in the middle of Mundy Pond Road.

Over the past two weeks, the Crown has called 21 witnesses to testify at Pope's trial, including passersby who stopped to attend to Collins, neighbours living on nearby Alderberry Place, forensic identification officers, a DNA specialist, a medical examiner and a taxi driver who had spent much of the day driving Pope and Collins around the city. He also transported Pope away from Mundy Pond Road and dropped him off near Elizabeth Avenue, before speaking with police.

Many of the witnesses said they saw Pope and Collins get into an altercation on Alderberry Lane, throwing punches at each other before running to Mundy Pond Road. Most of the witnesses described Pope as the aggressor and said Collins appeared to be attempting to defend himself, though none of them saw Collins being stabbed.

None of them said they saw a weapon, although one resident told the court he believed he saw Pope put something in his sock.

No weapon was recovered in a police search, though a folded knife in a backpack Collins had been carrying could not be ruled out by the medical examiner, based on its measurements. However, it contained no trace of blood and only Collins' DNA on the handle and blade.

Jeans Pope was wearing at the time of his arrest, within an hour after Collins collapsed, contained drops of Collins’ blood on the front.

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