Bits of coiled, black plastic in Chad Davis's Jeep were spotted by Winnipeg police during a forensic search of his vehicle after the young man mysteriously went missing.
But police only have a photograph of them today because the bits weren't collected and kept, jurors hearing a first-degree murder trial into Davis's death were told Thursday.
When Sgt. Rob Lucas searched the vehicle on March 5, 2008, Davis was considered a missing person. Davis, a drug dealer, had disappeared a month earlier, setting off alarm bells for his family and girlfriend.
The 22-year-old's killing wouldn't be uncovered until more than four months later, when a black plastic barrel with holes drilled into its lid was recovered from the Lee River near Lac du Bonnet, with Davis's body inside it.
In hindsight, Lucas acknowledged he wished the "little bits of black coiled plastic" had been seized. He said he assumed the plastic related to the installation of a new stereo in the vehicle.
RCMP and prosecutors allege Corey Tymchyshyn, 37, and Kristopher Brincheski, 31, killed Davis in a garage on Prince Rupert Avenue in Winnipeg and then used the victim's Jeep to take the barrel he was found in to the Winnipeg River, which flows into the Lee River.
The men have pleaded not guilty and are presumed innocent. The Crown alleges the killing was over a drug debt Tymchyshyn owed Davis.
After Davis was discovered, RCMP Cpl. Maria Forester searched his Jeep. While tests for the presence of blood were negative, bits of black plastic were recovered on items in a box of cleaning supplies in the Jeep, Forester told jurors.
"They were very similar to the black coil found at the autopsy," Forester testified.
RCMP conducted an experiment on Sept. 19, 2012 to see if a similar-sized barrel would fit into a similar Jeep. When rolled on its side, it did, pictures presented to jurors show.
Defence lawyer Roberta Campbell said a police photo shows Davis's 1999 Jeep Cherokee had more prominent wheel-well humps than the one RCMP used for testing. While RCMP measured the height and width of Davis's Jeep's trunk at the doorframe, the interior was not measured.
Jurors also heard more evidence about Davis's particular habits and personality traits through the testimony of his mother, Lori Davis.
Chad was in regular contact with his parents and it was unlike him to fall out of touch for more than 48 hours, she said.
"I talked to him all the time," Davis testified. "It was the norm for us to talk to Chad every single day." It was also his practice to eschew taking cabs anywhere and he was not inclined to lend his possessions, she told court.
"Chad always made it clear to us he didn't trust his friends... he didn't lend anything out. He didn't trust anybody," she said.
In an interview with police, Tymchyshyn said his former roommate turned up at his home around the time he was last seen and left in a taxi, leaving his Jeep behind.
Lori Davis freely conceded her son could be a difficult and defiant person.
"The bottom line is we loved our little boy, we wanted to keep him safe," she told prosecutor Keith Eyrikson.