Appearing in Courtroom 205 this morning, Thursday April 12,2018 before Superior Court Justice Terrence Platana for his jury trial is 42 year old BENJAMIN RONALD MARKI. He’s led into the prisoner’s box by TBPS Special Constables Jason and Ryan who are tasked with guarding Benjamin Marki. Jason takes left side in morning and Ryan takes right side. They switch positions in the afternoon.
Marki is about 5’7” tall and average build. He’s wearing a light gray sweater with black horizontal stripe at mid chest level around circumference of torso. Clean shaven with short hair. Has a bald spot of approximately 4” diameter on top back area of head. He’s accused of murdering 60 year old Wilfred Pott and 50 year old Anne Chuchmuch on December 27,2015.
MARKI is represented by local lawyers George Joseph and Christin Marrello. Crown Attorney Andrew Sadler and Katrina van Kessel are presenting the case for the Crown. Victim Services representative Shannon is in the body of the court guiding family members through this difficult process. She’s doing a fabulous job as always.
There are several members of the public in the body of the court and even some local paid media establishments decided to make a rare court appearance to earn their paycheques.
Mr Scott Whitaker and his Grade 12 law students from Hammarskjold High School are here today. Welcome to you all. It’s always refreshing to see the next generation coming to learn. Some young, enthusiastic faces in the crowd. Several students are wearing hockey jerseys in support of the Humboldt Broncos.
I know some students read this page and I’ll say this…. You’re incredibly fortunate to have a teacher with an attitude like Mr. Whitaker. Seize the opportunity to learn from him and this experience. It was great chatting with some of you in the hall today.
There are 12 jury members, 9 women and 3 men.
First witness today is Toronto pathologist Dr. Michael Pickup. He’s a qualified expert anatomical pathologist since 2009 and forensic pathologist since 2010. He performed 250 autopsies on his own last year. Justice Platana agrees that this witness is qualified to offer opinions as evidence.
Dr. Pickup has prepared a Report of Post Mortem Examination. His testimony covers all the steps involved in performing a post mortem examination. Sometimes he will attend the scene or at least review photographs of the scene. In this case, he reviewed photos. He will perform an external examination of the body and take swabs as necessary. The body is washed and then a Y shaped incision is made in the torso and the organs are removed. The skull cap is cut open and the brain is removed. Ancillary tests are performed on blood, urine, etc. We hear that a carbon monoxide level of 35% will cause death. Most smokers are 10%.
AUTOPSY OF WILFRED POTT
His first report is on Wilfred Pott. His opinion is that Pott was not breathing at the time of the fire. There was no soot in windpipe and he had a carbon monoxide level of 4% in his blood. He has carefully detailed all the injuries he observed on Pott. There were 10 separate injuries in head and neck area. There was a stab wound in temple area that fractured the bone. The Doctor notes that this fracture, if left untreated could eventually cause death. There was a stab would that punctured the cheek and cut the tongue. Other stab wounds cut upper left lip, left corner mouth, left back neck area, left top ear and blunt force injuries on left upper chest. Pott also had abrasions on back that Dr. Pickup opines were from first responders dragging him out of the house. There were bruises on front right forearm and palm as well as cut index finger, bruised right knee and abrasions on right shin.
CAUSE OF DEATH OF WILFRED POTT
A 3.6cm oblique stab wound 13.5cm deep in upper left thigh completely severed a vital artery that caused Wilfred Pott to bleed out is the cause of death.
Toxicology report on Wilfred Pott done February 12,2016 by Dr Randy Warren showed methadone, hydromorphone, antidepressant, and blood alcohol content of .028. Dr Pickup states toxicology was not a contributing factor in the death of Wilfred Pott.
Wilfred Pott was 5’11” and 148lbs.
AUTOPSY OF ANNE CHUCHMUCH
Dr.Pickup testifies the skin on her back was charred and burnt. Skin had split from heat. There was a strong odour of gasoline when he opened body bag. There was red plastic melted on her body from a gasoline jerry can. No soot in airway. Anne Chuchmuch was deceased before the fire. There are 47 stab wounds on the body in total. Doctor Pickup states 12 of the stab wounds are lethal or potentially lethal. There is a stab wound into chest into front part of heart but not into heart chamber. Numerous stab wounds in the back. A stab wound into left side face penetrating the bone into the sinus cavity. Several stab wounds in skull causing superficial fractures. He also describes defensive type wounds. A stab wound on outer right left forearm, one through the wrist and one on the left hand.
CAUSE OF DEATH OF ANNE CHUCHMUCH
Dr. Pickup lists the cause of death as stab wounds to neck and torso as well as breathing blood into lungs.
Toxicology report on Anne Chuchmuch was that she had THC, less than 10% carbon monoxide and no alcohol.
Anne Chuchmuch was 5’9” and 205lbs.
A DNA sample was taken from Anne Chuchmuch’s son and her body. It was sent to the Center of Forensic Science in order to confirm her identity.
NEXT WITNESS IS TBPS OFFICER JARROD HAY
Hay testifies that he arrived arrived on the scene and advised TBPS Officer Beck surreptitiously at the neighbour’s garage on Hastings Place that there is a dead body in 387 Brant St home.
In the garage at Hastings Place, he observed the right hand knuckles of Benjamin Marki to be swollen and abrasions on both hands. He recalls blood on the ear and back of larger black dog ‘Zeus” but can’t recollect seeing it on smaller dog ‘Gizmo’. Officer Hay does not recollect seeing the neighbour Robert Guitard in garage.
Hay testifies that Marki was in garage seated in chair in front of blue Polaris snowmobile and stood intermittently, but stayed mostly in chair. Marki stated in the presence of Hay that he was drinking that day and Officer Hay found his behaviour to be erratic. He told Marki there was an investigation. Marki replied “I fucking know”.
Marki was patted down twice for weapons. Once at police cruiser at Hastings Place and once at Animal Shelter. He doesn’t recall a smell of gasoline on Marki. Hay testifies Marki exhibited high anxiety in the police cruiser snooping the computer and seeing that Wilfred Pott had died.
NEXT WITNESS IS BRIAN WALKER, BEST FRIEND OF WILFRED POTT.
Walker testifies he met Pott is 2010 in a class and considered him as his best friend. The last time he saw Pott was on December 27,2015. He met Wilfred at his home on Brant Street around 2pm. He and Wilfred went to Tim Horton’s for coffee. Anne stayed home. They had coffee together for about 90 minutes and returned to 387 Brant Street. Anne was doing a paint-by-number art piece she got from Willfred for Christmas. Walker left Brant Street around 5:30pm.
Walker states Wilfred was a very thin and ill man. He had some medical issues. Anne was also ill and just had a hip replacement. They were loud people because Wilfred had hearing problems. Benjamin Marki was a roommate came up from Southern Ontario to love with them. He states Will considered Ben to be like a son. Ben was usually upstairs or gone. He states that later that evening Ben phoned him to come get dogs and cat but a police officer got on the phone and told him not to worry about it.
Walker went with Ben a few days later for coffee. Then helped Ben get his stuff from 387 Brant St home after police released the house. They picked up all Ben’s clothes and about 5 or 6 laundry baskets of DVD’s. Walker stored Marki’s belongings and moved to Geraldton on November 1,2017. He donated all of Marki’s clothes to charity and still has the DVD’s. He further testifies that Ben was staying at John Zahn’s place but got into argument with John and wanted to come live with Walker. Walker did not want Marki living with him.
Benjamin Marki was arrested on Friday January 15,2016 by Thunder Bay Police Services.
About 3 days later, Marki phoned Walker from the Thunder Bay Jail and said he had read Brian Walker and his wife’s statement to police. (Brian Walker gave a video statement and his wife provided no statement). Marki asked Walker to change his statement to police.
Walker states ‘Zeus’ the dog was a gift from him to Wilfred and Anne. Both dogs belonged to Will and Anne. But he says the cat belonged to Wilf.
Cross examination by defence lawyer George Joseph reveals that Wilfred Pott was known as “Uncle Will” to Brian Walker’s children. It’s also stated that there were 3 separate fires in a one year period. One on the shed (Will’s man cave) one on a boat and the December 27,2015 fire on the house. He states he never heard Benjamin Marki call Anne and Will “Mom & Dad”.
Walker continues and states that Will wanted to kick Anne out of the home on Christmas Day 2015. He testifies that Ben played peacemaker. He did that a few times. Will struggled with drug use to his last day.
NEXT WITNESS IS JOHN ZAHN.
His testimony begins that he’s a computer consultant who met Will through his work about 6 or 7 years ago. He would see him about four times a month. Will and John were involved together in the Kiwanis Club. Will went to work with the alcohol program at the Shelter House. Anne worked with a program called “Elevate”. Elevate NWO provides confidential HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis C and harm reduction education, prevention and support services.
Benjamin Marki came about 3 years later from Southern Ontario to live with Will and Anne. He says Will & Anne wanted to “improve & grow”. He states Marki didn’t want to work. Ben showed up at John’s Place on the Monday after the fire looking for a place to stay and stayed with Zahn until he got arrested. Zahn testifies that Marki told him about the day of the fire. Marki states he went to the Mission to get cigarettes, came back and Will and Anne were fighting. So he left to take dog Zeus for a walk. Ben said to Zahn that Will & Anne’s relationship was rocky, but Zahn didn’t see it that way.
On cross examination by defence lawyer George Joseph, Zahn is asked “You weren’t very fond of Anne, were you?”
Zahn replies “On a scale of 1 to 10, I put it at a 2”. Zahn had suspected Anne had stole from Kiwanis Club but never elaborates what he suspects was stolen by her.
He finishes his cross examination saying he witnessed an uncomfortable blowout with Will and Anne where Will accused her of abusing drugs.
END OF DAY 3 TESTIMONY
Tomorrow’s witnesses are expected to be the Chemist for the Center of Forensic Science and the Investigator from the Fire Marshall’s Office.