As Philip Butler's trial for an alleged home invasion got underway Wednesday, his lawyer implied that Butler's brother — whom Butler is accused of murdering a month later — had been involved as well.
The alleged incident happened in April of last year. By the time police charged Butler with breaking and entering with intent, assault causing bodily harm and breaching court orders, he was already behind bars, having been arrested for the murder of his brother, George, in May.
Victim Carl Scott testified in provincial court in St. John's Wednesday that he had been visiting friends at their apartment in C.B.S. last April 30 around 11 p.m. He told the court he and Philip Butler were friends, and he owed Butler $90 for cocaine the pair had done together a few months earlier.
"I was in the kitchen, then the next thing you know I was in the basement well, then I was down on the ground." — Carl Scott
Scott said he had been sitting in the living room at his friends' place when he heard Butler, a man named Mike Royle and another man he didn't know enter the apartment through the kitchen door behind him. They came into the living room and Butler demanded his money, Scott said. Scott said he stood up and argued with Butler, telling him he didn't have the $90.
The argument moved into the kitchen, Scott testified, before Royle and the unknown man pushed him outside into the basement well.
"I was in the kitchen, then the next thing you know I was in the basement well, then I was down on the ground," Scott said. "Mike Royle was saying, 'Outside, outside, outside!'"
Scott said he was smacked and punched, but wasn't able to see which of the men were attacking him. The attack lasted about five minutes, he said, while his two friends stood in the doorway, screaming at the men to stop. The men then left, he told the court.
"They left, I guess because there was so much blood pouring out of me at that point," Scott testified. "They just stopped and they left."
Scott said he drove the short distance home, and his fiancée called 911 when she saw him covered in blood. He spent the night in hospital, and was left with a broken hand, multiple fractures of the bones in his face, as well as bruising and a facial laceration that required stitches and a consultation with a plastic surgeon.
RNC Const. Lisa Fitzgerald, a forensic identification officer, also testified, presenting to the court with photos she had taken of the apartment that night, with blood visible in the outside stairwell, on the door and on the kitchen floor. Fitzgerald said a cigarette butt retrieved from floor was sent for DNA analysis and found to contain the DNA of two people. One of the samples was flagged as a match for Butler, while the other belonged to an unknown male.
Police obtained a warrant to get a DNA sample from Butler, who was at HMP at that point, on remand for allegedly murdering George on May 21. Police had been called to Butler's C.B.S. home that night, and found George dead inside. Butler was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree murder, and has been in custody ever since. A preliminary inquiry into the murder began earlier this month.
DNA expert Melanie Green of the RCMP's forensic testing lab in Edmonton testified via video, and explained analysis had revealed there was a one in 320 billion chance the DNA on the cigarette butt belonged to someone other than Philip Butler.
Though Scott had been unable to identify the third man he said was involved in the attack on him, sources allege it was George, and defence lawyer Tim O'Brien appeared to imply the same in his questions for Green.
"If Philip Butler were to have a sibling, could the sibling have the same DNA typing profile?" O'Brien asked her.
"I would have to say it's possible, but I would have to qualify that by saying I have not seen or heard of that happening except in identical twins," Green replied.
When asked by Judge Mike Madden why she felt it was possible if she had never heard of it, Green explained siblings get their DNA from the same genetic pool, through their parents. Though the chances of non-identical twin siblings inheriting the same genetic variances from their parents are extremely unlikely, it's not technically impossible, she said.
The couple who lived in the apartment where Scott was allegedly attacked had also been subpoenaed to take the stand Wednesday, but the court was told one of them had called and left a message saying they wouldn't be coming. As a result, Madden issued warrants for their arrest.
The trial will resume on Friday.
Royle was also charged in connection with the assault on Scott. His case is still before the courts.