Marcel Reardon’s family members watched the court video monitors intently Tuesday afternoon, seeing grainy footage of some of his last moments alive.
In the prisoner’s dock, Anne Norris — and her family behind her — watched, too.
The footage came from various businesses and downtown St. John’s streets — snippets of surveillance video acquired by the RNC as part of the investigation into Reardon’s death, and compiled into a Power Point presentation complete with time stamps and maps.
The first scene showed the interior of Wal-Mart on Topsail Road just after 9 p.m. on May 8, 2016. Anne Norris, wearing dark sneakers, light jeans, a black jacket and a scarf, walks in and heads toward the back of the store.
The next video shows Norris an hour and 15 minutes later, the plastic bag of a Kool-Aid-type drink hanging from her mouth, attempting to leave the store with three hammers, two bath towels, four kitchen knives and a fabric liner in a cart. Security guards stop her, and video then shows her at a checkout. After her debit card was declined, she purchased one of the hammers and one of the knives.
Day 1 of the Norris murder trial
Norris is next seen inside the North Atlantic gas station near the Village mall, drink package still in her mouth. A cab pulls up in the rain and Norris goes outside and gets in. Surveillance shows her next on Water Street near Shamrock City, with a backpack.
Footage obtained by police traces many of Norris’s movements over the next five hours. She’s seen with two men, one of them identified by police as Reardon. He appears drunk, and at one point falls to the ground, and Norris attempts to help him up. They get in a cab, with help from another man, who stays downtown as the cab drives away.
At 2:05 a.m., Norris is seen walking on Brazil Street, away from the apartment building in which she lived. Two minutes later, she is seen walking back.
Half an hour after that, Norris is seen walking away again, this time wearing different footwear, black pants and a grey jacket.
Surveillance video captured by the Port Authority about 20 minutes later shows two people, identified by police as Norris and a male friend, at the harbourfront near The Keg restaurant. There’s a flash police believe to be the reflective stripe of Norris’s backpack as it is thrown into the harbour.
The video footage was shown on Day 2 of Norris’s first-degree murder trial at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s. Norris has admitted buying the hammer, and hanging around with Reardon and two others downtown before going with Reardon to Harbour View Apartments, where she lived. She has admitted killing Reardon, 46, by hitting him numerous times in the head with the hammer, and putting him underneath the steps at the back of the building, where he was found the next day. She has admitted to then throwing a backpack containing the hammer, some rope and a pair of jeans into the harbour.
A scarf and sneakers consistent with the ones she is wearing in the earlier surveillance videos were recovered by police in her apartment and tested positive for Reardon’s blood.
Norris’s lawyers, Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy, say Norris, now 30, had just been released from the Waterford Hospital and was suffering from a severe mental illness that left her unable to understand what she was doing when she killed Reardon two years ago.
Crown prosecutors Iain Hollett and Jeff Summers disagree, and say Reardon’s death was planned and deliberate.
Earlier in the day, the court heard from Jack Huffman, who was the superintendent at Harbour View Apartments at the time of Reardon’s death.
Huffman, who has since moved back to his native Ontario, told the court he first met Norris when she came to the building looking to apply for an apartment. She looked extremely nervous, he said.
When Norris moved in days later, Huffman said, he helped her. She didn’t have much, he testified — no furniture, no pots or pans, no food, only three bags of clothes and a teddy bear. Huffman gave her some things previous tenants had left behind: a couple of couch cushions to sleep on until her bed arrived, some pots and kitchen utensils, and a blanket to use as a curtain for privacy. Having heard from a social worker that Norris had been released from the Waterford days earlier, Huffman said, he made sure she got an apartment on the back of the building, next to a young couple, away from certain tenants with prescription drug issues.
“She was extremely nervous,” Huffman said. “I believe I put my arm around her and told her everything was going to be good.”
Huffman said Norris seemed to calm down a bit as she settled in, even though she was banned from her apartment and had moved into another one temporarily as police forensic officers examined it.
“She became a little more comfortable. She didn’t seem as nervous, but she was still pensive,” Huffman said, adding Norris had spoken about getting a pizza and watching a movie when she got the money.
“You felt bad for her, didn’t you?” Kennedy asked Huffman on cross-examination.
“Extremely,” Huffman replied. “She was really sweet.”
Huffman also told the court about a note he had found in Norris’s apartment while cleaning it after she was arrested. Scrawled on the back of a business card, it included a doodle of a heart and arrow.
“Annie, I miss you. I was here 9:30 p.m. Call me Sweetie,” the note read, along with a phone number. It was signed “Derick.”
Huffman said that about three months earlier, a tenant named Derick had been evicted from the building for allegedly selling cocaine.
Huffman was the second witness to testify at Norris’s trial. On Monday, the court heard from Shawn Pumphrey, a tenant of the apartment building, who had befriended Norris in the days before she was arrested. Pumphrey said he had heard the building owner tell Norris she wasn’t allowed to have her boyfriend around, since he was banned from the building. According to Pumphrey, Norris responded, “He’s not a boyfriend, he’s more like a stalker. He left a note on my door.”
Pumphrey found Reardon’s body the morning of May 9, and later befriended Norris, before she was arrested. Pumphrey had called for Huffman, who called 911.
Huffman said he thought at first it was a homeless man sleeping underneath the steps, but then he saw blood and debris. He screamed, he said, and then called 911. Paramedics came quickly.
“When they pulled his hood back, they made a phone call and the police came shortly after,” Huffman said of the paramedics, Kelsey Goulding and Mark Whitty, who also took the stand Tuesday morning.
Whitty briefly appeared overcome and took a short pause as he spoke of the extent of Reardon’s injuries.
Norris’s trial will resume Wednesday morning with further examination of the surveillance videos.