A week after Sebastien Roy entered a “not guilty” plea in connection with the November 2002 death of Christopher Raynsford, the trial has seen roughly 20 hours of testimony from over a dozen witnesses, including police officers, the forensic pathologist and Raynsford’s mother.
Roy is charged with a single count of first degree murder. His trial began Oct 10 and is expected to last about four weeks. To date, there has been no discussion of the sexual orientation of either Raynsford or Roy.
Raynsford was a 34-year-old man with AIDS who lived alone in an apartment on Lisgar St, the jury was told. Because of his flagging health, he worked part-time as a busboy at Le Café at the National Arts Centre. He was a familiar face at Centretown Pub.
Raynsford’s body was found on Dec 4, 2002; the body was in an advanced state of decomposition, forensic pathologist Dr Yasmine Ayroud told the jury.
The jury has seen roughly 50 crime scene photos and 20 autopsy photos; a 20-minute autopsy video was shown several times. The photos show a body lying on the floor, face down in a prone position and tied up.
Police investigators Steve Kerr and Dan Brennan, as well as Ayroud, explained the photos to the jury. They images show a coaxial cable, the kind used to connect a TV to a VCR, wrapped around Raynsford’s neck multiple times. There was another cable and a quarter-inch tube wrapped around his neck and connected to a maze of cables binding his arms behind his back. Raynsford’s hands were also bound by two telephone cables and two layers of cloth binding. His legs, too, were bound.
Ayroud testified that the death was “asphyxial” and related to some combination of the neck bindings. She showed the jury purple discoloration and indentations on the neck as well as an x-ray of a fractured neck bone. Additionally, she concluded, “there was no way this could have been accidental.”
Justice Robert Maranger is presiding in the Superior Court of Ontario. The six man, six woman jury has listened attentively to each witness; most have been taking notes.
Cross-examination of Ayroud was tense. Defence attorney Gary Barnes repeatedly asked why drug tests weren’t run on Raynsford’s liver and stomach contents. While drug testing is typically done using blood samples, because of the body’s decay over an estimated two weeks, no useful blood samples were available. The pathologist told the jury that the liver and stomach contents aren’t very useful because they don’t give a true picture of what, if any, drugs were in the bloodstream.
Because of the decomposition, an exact time of death is impossible to establish, Ayroud said, but a newspaper found under the body dated Nov 21, 2002 was consistent with the rate of decay. Bodies that are left in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place partially mummify, Ayroub testified.
“The face was very discoloured by decomposition. It was black; it looked black,” she says.
Christopher’s mother, Anne Raynsford, testified that her last phone call with her son took place Nov 21. She presented bank statements that showed there was no bank activity after that day. She read from the series of increasingly panicked voicemails she left on her son’s machine; those messages began on the 22nd.
Kerr, an identification officer with the Ottawa Police in 2002, described and showed photos of blood on the walls, floor, and ceiling of Raynsford’s one-bedroom apartment.
Brennan introduced fingerprint evidence. Roy’s fingerprints were found on a plate and a wine bottle, and his palm prints on a pair of broken glasses in the apartment, the jury heard.
Roy has been sluggish during the trial. The first two days, he seemed to move slowly; putting on or taking off his suit jacket took several minutes. By day five, Roy was looking more responsive, taking time to survey the 25-member gallery on Oct 16. He has also started regular note-taking and passes the occasional message to his attorneys.
Although Roy has access to a translator, he has not used the service for more than a few minutes at a time.
The defence has not presented its opening statements as Capital Xtra goes to press.
The trial is open to the public. The trial will continue at the Ontario Court located at 161 Elgin St (at Laurier) in courtroom 36. Sessions typically begin at 10am each morning and are open to the public.