Top News

The murder trial of Anne Norris — what you need to know


As Crown prosecutors rest their case and the defence prepares to take its turn calling witnesses to testify at the murder trial of Anne Norris at Newfoundland and Labador Supreme Court in St. John's, here's a summary of who's who and what has happened so far.

The facts

Crown prosecutors told the jury at the outset that this case isn't a simple “whodunit.” Norris has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Marcel Reardon, though she has made a number of admissions.

She has admitted to socializing with Reardon and two others downtown in St. John's May 8, 2016, before leaving alone and going to Walmart on Topsail Road. She attempted to obtain three hammers, four knives, two bath towels and other items, and when her debit card was declined, successfully purchased one knife and a 16-oz hammer instead.

She then returned downtown. In the early morning hours of May 9, 2016, Norris and Reardon took a cab to Harbour View Apartments on Brazil Street, where she lived.

Norris has admitted she killed Reardon by striking him several times in the head with the hammer, then moved his body under a set of concrete steps. She has admitted to returning downtown and throwing a backpack containing the hammer into St. John's harbour. The backpack was later recovered and turned over to police.

Norris has admitted to owning a sock, scarf, bathrobe and pair of sneakers seized by police from her apartment and temporary living space, found to contain Reardon's blood.

Norris has admitted to returning to Walmart May 13, 2016 and trying to obtain more items, including two hammers, scissors, a backpack, a coat and other things. She was arrested by undercover police officers and escorted from the store, and has been in custody ever since.

The issues at trial are whether or not Norris was mentally sound enough to be criminally responsible for Reardon's death, and if so, whether or not the killing included the intent and planning required for first-degree murder.

The people

Anne Norris, 30. A former top high school athlete as a member of the Mount Pearl Huskies basketball team, also accomplished in karate.

Marcel Reardon, 46. Family members say he was kind-hearted and close with his siblings, but led a lifestyle to which not many would be accustomed.

Jerome Kennedy and Rosellen Sullivan, defence lawyers. They say Norris was extremely mentally ill at the time she killed Reardon, having been on a “downward spiral” since age 24. They allege Norris should be found not criminally responsible for Reardon's death due to her mental health.

Iain Hollett and Jeffrey Summers, Crown prosecutors. They allege Norris knew exactly what she was doing when she planned and deliberately killed Reardon and disposed of the weapon.

Justice William Goodridge, judge overseeing the trial. Goodridge was called to the bar in 1982 and appointed Queen's Counsel 20 years later. Appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007.

The jury: Six men and six women, selected from a pool of about 200 potential jurors in a process that took just four hours. One original juror was excused the day the trial began and a previously chosen alternate took the juror's place.

The evidence

Hollett and Summers have entered a number of exhibits as evidence so far, including the hammer Norris used to kill Reardon; police photos of the crime scene, Norris's apartments, and items seized; and video surveillance from Walmart showing Norris shopping on the night she killed Reardon and four days later, when she's seen spending considerable time contemplating hammers before selecting two; a video surveillance from the St. John's Native Friendship Centre captured in April 2016 showing Norris ditching a backpack in a dumpster and returning late at night to allegedly look for it. The backpack was later found to contain a hammer, knives, garbage bags, rope, cleaning supplies and other items.

In cross-examining witnesses, Kennedy and Sullivan have submitted police documentation of unsubstantiated reports made in the past by Norris, alleging intruders were breaking into her home and sexually assaulting her as she slept. They have also submitted audio recordings of three separate 911 calls made in the 24 hours before Reardon was killed, by members of the public alleging he was drunk and aggressive. As well, they've introduced a hand-written note reportedly found in Norris's apartment by the building superintendent and signed “Derick.”

The witnesses

The Crown has called 23 witnesses to the stand since the trial began, including a number of RNC officers, taxi drivers, Walmart employees and others. Among them:

Shawn Pumphrey: A tenant of Harbour View Apartments, who found Reardon's body May 9, 2016. Pumphrey also befriended Norris in the days after Reardon was killed.

Jack Huffman: Superintendent of Harbour View Apartments, second on the scene when Reardon's body was found.

Jessica Peach and Kevin O'Brien: The other people who were socializing with Norris and Reardon May 8 and 9, 2016.

Angie Paul and Mohamed Abdallah: Staff of the St. John's Native Friendship Centre who found a backpack reportedly ditched in a dumpster on the premises by Norris.

Dean Barnes and Sean Mugford: Walmart employees who had contact with Norris when she returned to the store May 13, 2016.

Dr. Simon Avis: The province's chief medical examiner. Avis told the court Reardon died of multiple injuries due to blunt force trauma, and his skull and brain were extensively fragmented.

What happens next

The judge and lawyers are taking care of some legal issues before Norris's trial resumes Monday afternoon. The defence is expected to call a number of psychiatrists to testify. The trial is due to wrap up in two weeks.

Tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Recent Stories