Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 25/1/2014 (2361 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two men on trial for a ghastly crime: The alleged first-degree murder of a handsome young Winnipeg man, a cocaine dealer, who went missing for months and was found July 23, 2008 in a barrel pulled from the Lee River.
Corey Tymchyshyn and Kristopher Brincheski are accused and presumed innocent.
After week one of the hearing, here's a breakdown of the evidence Crown prosecutors have presented thus far in this deadly serious case, which they say occurred Feb. 6, 2008. Davis's disappearance after this date was a missing persons investigation until his body was discovered.
[You can read Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson's opening address to the jury here to get the crux of the allegations. This lengthy post is more to ground readers on the actual evidence that's being presented].
Also, I've presented it (with one exception) without distinction of whether the evidence was led on direct by the Crown or cross examination by defence lawyers.
I suspect to the 11-person jury, it's important they just hear it all and then try to sort out what's what. It's the answers, not the questions, that are the evidence.
And remember: the golden guideline is, they can accept all, some or none of what a witness tells them.
Lives in Winnipeg, owns cottage on the Lee River since 1989 that he built himself. Goes almost every weekend in the summer, not as often in wintertime.
Has never seen the Winnipeg River completely frozen, "not really."
The current of the water on the Lee River at his cottage flows north to south, is "fairly strong" in the centre. "Not much" from east to west.
A public walkway to a dock next to his cottage is meant for cottagers in the area, "backlotters," who don't have waterfront property.
On July 5, 2008, saw barrel in water. Thought it may be debris from a dock that had broken up elsewhere. On this day, he rolled it onto the shore as far as he could. It was black and had holes near the plastic lid, which was sealed with a steel snap ring.
He left the item there until July 23 when he and another cottager moved to move and dispose of it. He unsnapped it and saw a white/black tarp inside. The friend pulled on it until he saw a "belt and pants" inside. The friend had a better look and told him to get out.
They did and called police, who arrived in 5 minutes. He did not take anything out of the barrel.
Says he didn't open it at first because he was alone, that's why he left it for two weeks.
Admits anyone could have come and gone up and down the public walkway to use the public dock, which isn't supervised.
Shown picture of current winter conditions in the area, can't disagree the water appears frozen over.
RCMP Cpl. Maria Forester, forensic analyst [first appearance]
July 23, 2008: learned at 1:30 pm she was being dispatched to Lee River scene. Arrived there at 4:23 p.m.
Serious Crime Unit and RCMP divers there already.
Barrel is now turned upright, wrapped in a shroud and then fished out with a winch.
Her next involvement was next day at autopsy at HSC.
The "pebbled texture" of the barrel not good for fingerprinting.
Barrel is cut to extract the person carefully from the Barrel.
Victim is wearing grey socks, a Versace black jacket, blue jeans and a grey hoodie.
He has a black extension cord around his neck.
A baseball cap with rhino symbol and gloves are also in the barrel.
Samples taken for DNA analysis.
A "black coil" is found amongst the materials post removal
Barrel was seized and taken back to the RCMP forensic lab on Academy Road for testing.
A room is set aside specifically for this case.
The barrel is 90 cm tall and 58-59cm wide.
Fingerprinting done on it.
May 20, 2009: Further testing on barrel and tarp [a laser-light exam]
Day 2: Forensic Pathologist Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra
He's Manitoba's Chief Medical Examiner, has been since 1999, directed autopsy of Chad Davis
Says barrel was cut with a saw to preserve as much as possible.
"Heavy objects" like a large square piece of metal and some pulleys found in the barrel.
The small bit of black plastic recovered "appeared like a corkscrew," "probably came from the barrel."
The victim has a tattoo, the word "Davis" in Old English lettering on back of left upper arm.
Weighed 130 lbs at time of autopsy.
Cause of death ruled to be: blunt force to the head, "multiple blows received to the head."
Just one of the skull wounds the victim received may have caused incapacitation, a fall and perhaps death.
"He did not die within weeks, probably months."
Temperature of the water would have an effect on the degradation of the body.
Rice could be identified in his stomach contents.
"An object, something like a hammer," could have caused the wounds to head.
It's consistent with findings that he was hit from behind with hammer.
Evidence of drowning: none he could find.
The cord around his neck was loose, and no associated trauma from it.
No evidence of defensive wounds on his body.
Couldn't say if victim bent over, already down or standing when struck.
"I can't say with certainty how this happened."
Injuries to front of face not consistent with being hit there, more likely from fall.
Again: "I can't say exactly how this happened."
Can't say if one attacker or two.
Courtney Sych, Davis's girlfriend at time he went missing Feb. 6, 2008.
Davis had been her boyfriend on and off for 1.5 years.
"At that point, he was my world. He was all I had."
Not always the nicest guy, especially towards start of their relationship, as it progressed, "he was a great guy."
Fall 2007 into winter 2008, they were on/off a few times.
Says they got back together on Dec. 27, 2007.
Jan. 12, 2008, she left Winnipeg to go to B.C. for work, was "kind of looking for a fresh start," mom in BC offered her one.
"We cried a lot when I left for that airport."
She came back to Wpg on Jan 30, 2008 when Chad asked her to come back and paid her ticket.
She went to meet him at Hargrave Street apartment where he lived with "Corey" [Tymchyshyn] at the time, stayed with him a couple of nights there.
They talked of going to Calgary together.
Tymchyshyn was moving back with mom at 703 Prince Rupert Ave. because he didn't have rent money.
She and Davis started staying in hotels, first the Capri, then the Westwood Super 8 and then the Red Lion Inn.
He'd call his mom once a day. Parents are "amazing people" he was close with.
Davis wasn't skinny.
He was "OCD" about his appearance. "Everything had to be perfect"
He wore expensive brand-name clothes because he wanted to look sharp. He wouldn't go out unless he looked good, clothes matched.
He was protective of his possessions.
Never saw him lend things to friends.
Was he cheap? "He wouldn't waste money." Not flashy with cash.
"He wouldn't ever" take cabs, even if drinking. "He had to do it himself. He wouldn't rely on a cab driver or a ride."
Never saw him leave things at friend's house.
Knew he had a storage locker at Dino's Storage - thought that Corey hooked him up with it.
They went there once, put boxes in there they didn't want to take to Calgary.
Admits he sold drugs, and that no-contact order was in place between them after incident at her workplace.
She has no criminal record.
On Feb. 6, 2008, they were "the best they ever were" at that time.
They moved this day to the Red Lion Inn on Portage. Was a "cheap place" and she hated it.
Were to leave to Calgary on Feb. 8.
He said before they left, he had to have something fixed on his truck and "collect a few debts from a few people."
Prior to arriving at Red Lion, he and Tymchyshyn spoke, he said he needed a ride.
They arrive at Red Lion at 11:30 a.m. checked in
Had lunch at Chinese food place attached to hotel. She's not 100 per cent sure if he had rice to eat.
They then grabbed small amount of things from his Jeep, which was full of stuff for their move.
They went to room, it was "cheap," and "only for a few nights," he told her.
He said he had to go give Corey a ride and he'd be back in half an hour - his last words to her.
"All of his luggage" was in the Jeep, including a black Swiss army suitcase. There was also a Rubbermaid container.
She left a duffle bag in there, boxes.
He left his "perfect" eyebrow tweezers in the room and a laptop bag and a day planner.
"I was a nosey girlfriend. He'd tell me stuff. But he wouldn't tell me everything."
"Raspy" was Tymchyshyn's nickname.
The planner was to keep track of who owed him what money. He never used real names, but nicknames.
On a loose slip of yellow paper in it, "Raspy" is listed [among other names] with the numbers 21,850 and 26,850
He left his wallet in the hotel room with ID in it and credit card.
She discovered $5,000 cash in his laptop bag. "Thank God he did" as she was totally broke.
Two hours pass, and he's not back. Using pay phone in hotel, she decided to phone him repeatedly.
Called him that day "as much as I possibly could have."
He only had the number of 296-6036 to her knowledge.
Called Tymchyshyn's mom's line to leave him a message.
The next day, tried calling hospitals and his friends, who didn't seem concerned at all.
"I don't care about you. I don't care about Chad," one told her.
She ended up living on the $5,000 she found.
When he left, he was wearing a "Hardy" belt, name brand jeans, hat with rhino symbol on it and black Versace jacket.
Davis "really liked watches."
His jewelry box was in the Jeep, wooden with mirrored back. She ID's box shown to her in court [in evidence bag] as being his.
Says she saw him pack "not neatly" when leaving Tymchyshyn's Hargrave apartment.
She's shown other items - a cardboard box with Davis's family's business logo on it and her handwriting, a floor lamp and a nylon DVD case - IDs them as his.
Says the lamp was in the storage unit at Dino's. Her pillow, pink, was also shown to her.
She spoke to RCMP on three occasions in the homicide probe.
She's positive the heating pad she's shown was in the Jeep at the time she last saw Chad.
Sych describes watches Davis wore - one of them slightly broken, missing a strap pin - and posters he had, including a "Scarface" poster.
Davis's key to get into the lock on the storage unit door at Dino's was kept in his Jeep's cupholder.
He owned two TV sets, one a "flatscreen" the other heavy and "old school."
She was at Davis's funeral. Tymchyshyn was not.
The message she left on Tymchyshyn's mother's line on Feb. 6, 2008 was not returned.
DAY 3 - Sych returns, cross-examination
Had been to Tymchyshyn's mother's home on Prince Rupert "a while previous."
Agrees the distance between Red Lion Inn and Tymchyshyn's mom's is "polar opposite" ends of city.
Davis's half-hour estimate of being away was a casual statement, not a definitive timeline.
He could have gotten texts or other calls when they were eating at the Chinese restaurant.
She can't recall Davis getting other calls other than the one from Tymchyshyn.
She remembers seeing the phone lying on the bed, seeing it was Tymchyshyn's number.
"I have no idea" if Davis got call from another friend, SW, when they were eating.
SW was a "nice boy" whom Chad would smoke up with sometimes.
SW was one of the only people who seemed concerned after Davis went missing.
His other friends: "I always told him they weren't his real friends - more like business associates."
Another of Davis's friends said: "go f' yourself, and you and Chad go f' yourself."
Another, CC, suggested she had something to do with his disappearance on first conversation, on second, he was more helpful. Told her to "wait it out," because "Chad's a little on the weird side sometimes."
She couldn't say if these men worked for Chad in his drug business or were friends. "I fully 100 per cent do not know."
Admits he had vanished without telling her once before, in 2007 when he upped and left for Toronto. This upset her.
He had also not called her when he was arrested for a drug matter and stopped answering her phone.
Admits after Davis went missing on Feb. 6, she found the money in the bag and went for a friend to have a drink.
Talk of going to Calgary was not spontaneous or out of the blue, it had been discussed before.
She says she doesn't remember telling Davis's mother in Feb. 14, 2008 call that he was taking her out to Calgary and then coming back.
Admits there was a no-contact order between them at the time. "I was looking to get the charges dropped ... the no-contact order."
There's a note in the day planner for Feb. 5 to call Legal Aid and a phone number, but can't recall if that call was made that day. "There was a few phone calls."
She and Davis planned to leave without dealing with his outstanding warrants ASAP. The assumption was he'd come back and deal with them.
How drunk did she get on Feb 6 with her friend? "I've never been incredibly drunk that I didn't know what was going on. I was not stumbling ... slurring my words - I have never been that way." But is a lightweight when comes to drinking. (Statement) Told police on Aug. 7, 2008 that she and friend ended up getting "right retarded" after going for the drink on Feb. 6, 2008.
"I was never a disaster drunk." - can only tolerate so much, saying she hadn't eaten all day.
Over next few weeks: "I really drank myself stupid every day." "Because I really didn't know what was going on."
Yes, it was Davis who paid her way back to Winnipeg from B.C.
The list of names and numbers in the day planner was, to her, a score sheet. "That's what I get out of it. That they owed him money for drugs."
Yes, Davis had a temper and would sometimes take it out on her. But he had "softened up ... with me."
"His whole self, toward the end (became) more gentle, caring, thoughtful."
The worst he'd even been to her was in their initial weeks of dating. "A lot of girls like the bad boys."
Saw hope in him, that he needed love in his life.
"Me staying with him made him a better person in the end. He needed my love ... I gave him chances, and I'm glad that I did."
Yes, his lifestyle was risky
He had "tons" of people who didn't like him. "I don't know how many times i had to fight, to say there's a different side to him."
In one of her police statements, she said there's a typo in that one of his perceived enemies was not SW, his friend, but a Hells Angels guy. (She couldn't say that he definitely was an HA).
He and another friend, MK - had a falling out and over money, now they "hated" each other.
Davis would have no problem punching someone out. He had access to a gun in the past. "He wouldn't carry it with him, per se."
RCMP asked her to describe various objects to them. She was not shown items by them. "They said it wasn't allowed."
Says she initially tried to pass day planner off as her own in an effort to shield Davis from police scrutiny (before he was found dead). They ended up taking it anyways.
In police interview on March 10, 2008, was not trying to mislead police in any way.
Yes, told police "he can be a puke," that Davis, "mentally, he wasn't all there, that he had problems."
Yes, told police he didn't have a lot of friends because he can be "cocky."
The history of domestic violence between them was "not severe."
Dec 27, 2007 was the date she moved in with Davis on Taylor. He had been living with a friend, RMG, but he told her it was Tymchyshyn. So he lied to you? "Yeah." (shrugged).
Davis was paranoid about police.
"He was a secretive person" and wouldn't surprise her he didn't tell his parents about moving to Calgary with her.
Tymchyshyn had the password to Davis's laptop when they lived together. She didn't.
Yes, he had used steroids in the past and his temper was worse when he did.
Agreed she told police in statement that she didn't know what to believe when Davis said things. "Sometimes, yeah."
On back of "scoresheet" was numbers totalling up to 287,000 (this is imputed to be dollars).
No, he never mentioned having that much money.
Davis and Tymchyshyn had been "good friends," but sometimes called him "a goof." But then, they'd hang out again.
She wasn't 100 per cent sure they had a grow-operation together, Davis said it was Tymchyshyn's but he'd help with it.
Yes, Davis used BBM "Pin" function a lot to ensure security of communications.
No, one of his oldest friends, RMG, was not at his funeral. A lot of people expected there were not.
Corey didn't like you. "I know." And you didn't like Corey. "I know."
Det. Matthew Freeman, Winnipeg police (organized crime as of Feb. 2008, now major crimes unit)
Has taken hundreds of statements from people over his 14+ years as a cop
Feb. 12, 2008 - was assigned with other OCU's to look into General Patrol report made by Sych that Davis was missing. OCU involved because of Davis's connection to drug trade.
Spoke with Tymchyshyn's mom on Feb. 15, 2008, at home on Prince Rupert, last place Davis had been heard from or seen.
Spoke with her in kitchen for 20-25 minutes: "I found she was incredibly nervous and incredibly anxious."
That led to Feb. 19, 2008 conversation with Tymchyshyn at Prince Rupert after playing "phone tag" with him for a couple of days.
He asked to speak with Tymchyshyn in cruiser car for privacy. He was not under arrest, could have left.
The tone was "fairly genial, fairly light."
"There was no other information at that time to suggest anything else had happened" (it was missing persons case).
Tymchyshyn said he met Davis via mutual friends in summer 2007, were former roommates on Hargrave.
That he and his girlfriend had a rocky relationship.
Took Tymchyshyn's phone number and DOB.
What Tymchyshyn told him: (according to Freeman's notes and recall, in italics) he last saw Davis on Feb. 6-7 in early afternoon at Tymchyshyn's mom's home. He came over there.
They were supposed to go to a hydroponics store in Davis's Jeep.
Said Davis visited with him and mom for 30-60 mins, "was in good spirits."
Had seen him using his BB and texting.
A white-coloured cab came, he couldn't say what company.
The driver was an East Indian male who was clean shaven and had black hair.
Davis appeared to be familiar with him because they shook hands.
Davis took a black suitcase and a blue Rubbermaid container out of his Jeep and put them in cab.
Was not aware where he was going.
Davis said he "was going out of town for a few days, that (Tymchyshyn) needs to come to pick him up when he returns."
His other friend, RMG, was to come get the Jeep from Tymchyshyn, that the keys were left with Tymchyshyn for that purpose.
Tymchyshyn admitted he owed Davis money for cocaine, $18,000.
"He made it clear to us it was for personal cocaine use."
The debt had accumulated over 30-45 days,
He had repaid that amount to Davis through income at his legitimate job;
And also by lending Davis the use of his Chevy Avalanche "for a period of time."
The Avalanche had been returned to him by RMG on Feb. 12 or 13. "The debt had been paid, and now it was OK to have the truck returned."
Some East Indian males had been using the Avalanche.
Tymchyshyn said "he was concerned about Chad and had no idea where he'd gone."
Birth certificate of a man named Siran was found in the Avalanche when he got it back, Tymchyshyn had said.
Freeman: Kris Brincheski's name never once came up in missing person's investigation.
Freeman says he never got a call from a man named Michael Goulet or from Dino's storage.
Admits he had no "baseline" to judge Tymchyshyn's mom's behaviours and mannerisms.
Tymchyshyn never said he sold cocaine.
"I was actually kind of surprised he (Tymchyshyn) acknowledged the debt in the first place."
ADMISSION OF AGREED FACTS
Police were tasked with finding out of taxis (white ones) dispatched to 703 Prince Rupert after 12 noon on Feb. 6, 2008
There's no record of any cab being dispatched.
Spring Taxi could not provide records because they no longer existed. The company does have white cabs in its fleet.
Day begins with two questions from jurors, who want to know how much cocaine $18,000 could buy and at what designation [wholesale or retail]. They also want to know if there was a delay in asking Spring Taxi for their dispatch records. Justice Brenda Keyser acknowledges the questions on the record and asks them to be patient and hear all the evidence before deciding to seek answers.
Next witness, Lori Davis
Is Chad Davis's mother.
Calls Davis, "my baby boy,"
Says he was a "physical fit buff" and thought he was a good-looking guy.
Davis struggled in school, "he had to learn everything the hard way ... like a wild stallion sometimes."
"I talked to him all the time. He called me daily, generally ... it was the norm for us to talk to Chad every single day."
Even if he left town, he'd still phone, even if the details he gave were sketchy
"It would be abnormal, absolutely" to no hear from him every day.
He liked to look good, liked "bling" like jewelry and watches.
He was "meticulous" about caring for his car, "it was his prized possession."
"He told us he would trust no one with his car except for his dad."
Davis had two big screen TVs.
"Chad would always make it clear to us he didn't trust his friends ... he didn't lend anything out. He didn't trust anybody."
She did not know him to take taxi cabs, that if he ever needed a ride, he'd call his dad.
Phone was attached to dad's hip: "the Chad phone."
"The bottom line is we loved our little boy, we wanted to keep him safe. For 22 years all we wanted to do was keep him safe and we couldn't."
Davis "didn't like rules ... was extremely defiant."
She became aware when he was 19 that he was selling drugs. She says she sort of "stalked him" to keep tabs on what he was up to.
She and Davis had talked about him getting out of town to get a fresh start.
As of fall 2007, he had been living in suite on Taylor, alone.
He asked for help moving out of there because he wound up in jail for a short time.
She and husband "put his stuff into storage." - Dino's Storage.
For the couple of months before he went missing, had been living with Tymchyshyn.
She didn't know he moved again after living with Tymchyshyn.
Some of his things - like a black sectional - wound up in her home because Davis was afraid it would get wrecked in storage.
Davis came for dinner on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, stayed about 1-1.5 hours (usual amount of time).
Saw him next day, Feb. 4, when he "popped by" to deal with a car issue.
After this day, 48 hours passed and she began getting worried because they hadn't heard from him.
The only time he had stayed out of touch for more than 48 hours in past was when he was in lockup and couldn't access phone.
He drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee. She saw it when she and husband went to go pick it up from Tymchyshyn "the next week."
It was Chad's dad who went to door to get keys. They drove vehicle to their business.
Says she quickly looked inside it, saw a case of water bottles and a box of cleaning supplies. And, a big speaker.
She did not see a suitcase nor a rubbermaid container inside.
This was around Feb. 11-12.
Police eventually called to ask to search the Jeep, now parked in their driveway. "I can't recall the exact date."
Police took vehicle and then gave it back.
After Davis's homicide was discovered after he was missing for 189 days, RCMP wanted the Jeep.
On March 6, 2008 told WPS missing persons investigator she believed Sych, the girlfriend, "had lied in the past," was emotional and temperamental in her view.
Davis was a "hot head," had a temper.
She knew Davis had a tattoo.
"Yes, he was secretive, absolutely."
He wouldn't give parents his apartment number on Hargrave.
"He kept us absolutely totally protected from his friends - he trusted absolutely no one."
"He changed phones like he changed underwear," she told police.
The last number he had came up under the name 'Ray Sanchez.'
"He never appreciated rules," "didn't have a firm grasp of cause and effect," told police.
She didn't know Sych was even in town prior to Feb. 6, 2008.
Sych had once asked Davis's parents for $100 when he upped and left her with no money. She never asked again.
She was totally worried about the lifestyle Davis lived, was aware violence was sometimes involved.
She cannot recall Davis having a red Infiniti prior to his Jeep.
Was not aware that Davis had loaned the Infiniti to Tymchyshyn when he was in jail, as defence contends.
"He could be mean ... to others. He wasn't mean to me."
At the Sunday dinner on Feb. 3, 2008, Davis didn't mention Sych was back in town.
Sgt. Ralph Lucas, WPS forensic identification unit
Twenty-eight year veteran of the service, 12 years in ident.
Was assigned to Davis missing persons investigation on March 5, 2008, to examine Jeep. Reviewed prior reports.
Yes, there are things now he wished he had seized as part of the investigation.
10:50 a.m. March 5, Jeep (1999 black Grand Cherokee) at PSB for exams. No exterior damage found.
An older am/fm unit inside the back, looked as if new stereo installed.
A "box speaker" in the back cargo area.
Also in cargo area: "little bits of black coiled plastic." He thought likely related to installation of stereo.
Two packs of gum, CDs, vehicle registration and a "U-type" lock in glove box.
He taped for hair and fibre, swabbed areas for DNA and tested for blood. None found. Fingerprinted as well.
The bits of plastic were not seized, only a photograph of them remains.
Was not aware of any DNA results as a result of his work this day. He agrees the police procedure of testing for blood with "hemosticks" can result in false positives.
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