In Vancouver’s Supreme Court today, an exhibit officer showed the jury contents of a red and black MEC backpack which was found with James Lee Busch and Zacchary Armitage at the time of their arrest, 48 hours after breaking out of William Head Prison at low tide.
Both are on trial for the murder of 60-year-old Martin Payne, found dead in his home eight kilometres from the prison. Both are pleading not guilty.
In the backpack were a number of items of interest: a tourist map of Greater Victoria, a lighter with ‘Busch’ inscribed on it, two William Head Prison library cards (one belonging to Busch, the other to Armitage), and some green candy wrappers.
Maybe most importantly, found with the backpack was a set of keys which had a Ford car key on it. Exhibits officer Const. Meghan Groulx testified it was tested and proved to be a match to Payne’s Red F-150 pickup truck found abandoned in Oak Bay hours before their arrest.
The other keys were tested at Payne’s home, some of which opened locks on the doors to Payne’s house.
In their cross-examination, Armitage’s defence lawyer Jim Heller once again tried the tactic of trying to prove a tainted investigation. Heller tried to get Groulx to admit she was trying to solve the crime while she was tasked with documenting it.
She denied the allegations.
Heller also tried to get Groulx to admit that her colleagues, also working on the documentation of the crime scene, were beginning to link the murder to the escaped prisoners from William Head.
Groulx also denied the allegations.
Like the forensic investigator before, Heller pointed out what investigators did not focus on. This time, taking aim with an unsearched drawer of kitchen knives.
“You don’t know what sharp object might have been used in the attack…Really it could be no different than an array of kitchen cutting knives. It would have been negligent to not seize those and examine those too,” said Heller to Groulx.
“I don’t recall seizing every knife in the house,” Groulx responded, saying nothing in the kitchen drawer seemed out of place or of suspicion, but the Bowie knife, hack saw found near Payne’s body and axe heads elsewhere in his house, were.
Busch’s defence lawyer Ryan Drury carried out a short cross-examination of Groulx late in the afternoon. As he did with the lead forensic investigator, he pointed to objects like a possible hatchet and hammer in the garage which were not examined by the team.
Groulx said they did not appear to be out of place.
Friday a new witness takes the stand.