Medical examiner takes the stand Monday in Falconer trial

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PICTOU - Nova Scotia's medical examiner is expected to be the 17th witness called to the stand in Pictou Supreme Court on Monday for the first-degree murder trial of Christopher Alexander Falconer

An artist’s rendering of Mason Campbell during testimony on Thursday at the first-degree murder trial of Christopher Falconer.

Dr. Matthew Bowes is one of 42 Crown witnesses that could testify this month.

Falconer, 31, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Amber Kirwan who went missing from downtown New Glasgow on Oct. 9. Her remains were found in Heathbelll about a month later.

Witnesses who already testified in the trial said Bowes personally attended the remains site in Heathbell on Nov. 5 and later performed an autopsy on Kirwan's body. He is expected to tell the 13-member jury about evidence collected from her body and the cause of death.

The trial opened this past Tuesday with Justice Nick Scaravelli overseeing the proceedings.

Witnesses called thus far include Kirwan's parents, Donald and Marjorie, who called their daughter "perfect" and the "light of their life." Testimony continued with many of Kirwan's friends and co-workers who attended a party at her home on Oct. 8.

Some of the friends left the Pictou Landing apartment in the late hours of Oct. 8 with Kirwan in a cab destined for Dooly's. All of them confirmed that she was wearing black leggings, a blue and black shirt, black sweater and feather earrings that night.

Two friends, Christie Fiander and Maggie Chickness, said Kirwan was annoyed that her boyfriend, Mason Campbell, didn't make to the bar that evening, and she called him in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 to pick her up.  

Testimony confirmed she told her friends she was walking to Big Al's convenience store to meet Campbell for drive home.

Campbell testified that he received a call from Kirwan around 1:40 a.m. and arrangements were made to meet her at the convenience store, but she never arrived. He said he circled the area looking for her and returned to their apartment later that morning.

He testified that he called and texted some of her friends to find out her location but thought she might have just gone home with one of them at the end of the night. The next morning he called his mother and other friends, stating he was getting more and more worried as time passed.

Campell said he searched for weeks for her, even following up on tips of his own even though police warned him to stay out of the investigation. He stated many times he couldn't recall much from the search because he was exhausted and living on cigarettes at time.

Testimony continued mid-week from two Heathbell residents, Nathan Goodall and Lisa Williams, who found clothing and earrings down an access road near their property. Williams said she was bothered by the fact that a car was parked at the end of access road on Oct. 11 and on Oct. 14 she decided to go for a walk to the area.

The find led to massive search in Heathbell by RCMP and ground search and rescue volunteers around their property on the weekend of Oct. 15 and when police left, the couple continued to search vacant buildings and fields in the area where the search didn't take place.

The couple said the walked up a logging road opposite the access road across from their property and found an area of suspicious loose ground. They dug in it for a bit, but found nothing and left the scene.

New Glasgow Regional Police Service Det. Jason MacKinnon testified that on Oct. 28, he and two other officers were having lunch when he mentioned that searchers didn't look on the opposite side of the road where the clothing was found. The officers visited the area and walked up the same logging road as Williams and Goodall and found a scratch mark down an embankment and suspicious looking ground.

They took photos and GPS coordinates of the site and returned to New Glasgow. On Nov. 5, New Glasgow Police, Bowes and an RCMP forensic identification team returned to the logging road and Kirwan's remains were found.

Sgt. Darlene MacEachern of the RCMP's identification forensic unit testified Friday about evidence that was collected at the Heathbell remains site and a camper trailer in Hardwood Hill. She said Kirwan was naked and bound at the wrists with a sweater and towel. She had defensive wounds on her hands and puncture marks on her chest, shoulder, back and neck.

At the camper trailer, evidence collected included a piece of black fabric, pieces of duct tape, one of which had a Dooly's stamp on it, towels and drinking bottles. Hair and fibers from the duct tape were also collected as well as hair found on the headboard of the bed.

MacEachern added that she was also involved in the seizure of Campbell's vehicle in mid-October that contained pieces of clothing, shoes, empty fireworks boxes, a roadside emergency kit, duct tape and a small shovel.

She said she also analyzed the contents from Falconer's grey Impala that was seized on Nov. 7. Some of the items included a white bag in the back seat that contained a black tank top, a green pill bottle, receipts, a note with phone number, sandwich wrapper, empty car filter box and duct tape.

In addition to Bowes, extensive forensic evidence is expected to be heard this week. Court resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m. No phones are allowed in the court by the general public. 

Organizations: RCMP, New Glasgow Regional Police Service, Campbell's

Geographic location: Heathbell, New Glasgow, Hardwood Hill

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