Crown traces suspect's steps at triple murder trial of Ian Bush

Hair at triple homicide does belong to Ian Bush, defence admits

An Ottawa police forensic imaging specialist spent the second day of Ian Bush's triple murder trial painstakingly tracing the suspect's footsteps in the hours leading up to the deaths of a federal tax court judge, his wife and their neighbour.

Michael Ross was tasked with painting a detailed, chronological picture of the movements of a person of interest in connection with the killings of Alban Garon, 77, his 73-year-old wife Raymonde, and their friend Marie-Claire Beniskos, 78.

The three were found bound, gagged and beaten to death in the Garons' 10th-floor apartment at 1510 Riverside Dr. on June 30, 2007.

Ross created a chronology that includes video surveillance and still images from Hurdman bus station on June 29, 2007, satellite photography and computer-generated images.

The video shows a man in dark pants and a light-coloured T-shirt holding a bag in one hand while walking from the bus station in the direction of the 1510 Riverside, then returning about an hour later before disappearing behind two buses that leave the station.

The Crown claims the man in the video is Ian Bush, and said that was confirmed by Bush's son, who recognized his father's fanny pack and distinctive gait.

In cross-examination, defence counsel Geraldine Castle-Trudel made reference to the jerkiness of the surveillance video and asked if it could alter a person's movement. Ross replied that it could.

Castle-Trudel also asked Ross whether his video chronology examined a broader area beyond Hurdman and the apartment building, such as surrounding residences or bike and foot paths. Ross answered that it did not, and said he only included video footage that was specifically requested in a police report.

Castle-Trudel asked if Ross had looked at video footage from the day before the killings and the day after. Ross said he had not.

Suspicious delivery man

In Wednesday's testimony, the Crown introduced the idea that Raymonde Garon told friends two days before she died about a suspicious man who was looking for her husband and who claimed to be a delivery man.

It's not yet clear whether other police investigators combed through more surveillance video from Hurdman station.

The Crown introduced the photo of a New Balance 504 running shoe as an exhibit in court Wednesday. Police believe the killer was wearing that type of shoe because of a footprint they found at the Garon apartment in 2007.

Police asked Ross to use special image-enhancing software to clarify a photo that was found on a memory stick in the rafters of Bush's basement.

The image, with the title "massage hands," shows Bush doing pushups on his fingertips. In the rear corner of the image is a pair of what the Crown alleges are New Balance 504 running shoes.

In cross-examination Thursday, Castle-Trudel asked if Ross had "Photoshopped" the image. Ross said he had used industry-standard software in order to brighten up the image and had flipped its orientation.

Maintenance worker testifies

The Crown called building maintenance worker Julio Santamarta to testify Thursday. He recalled seeing a "serious-looking" person riding the elevator on June 29, 2007. The man was carrying a bag by his side and was not a resident of 1510 Riverside Dr., Santamarta testified. Nor had he seen the man before.

Santamarta said the suspicious person got off the elevator sometime before noon on the morning of the killings. 

Santamarta testified he visited the police station on two occasions to look at photographs of suspects lineups, but he didn't recognize the man he'd seen in the elevator.

In cross-examination, Santamarta told Castle-Trudel the composite sketch police drew based on his description of the man in the elevator did not resemble the man he saw. And when Castle-Trudel asked Santamarta whether he recognized the man in the courtroom Thursday, Santamarta looked around the room — including the prisoner's box where Bush was sitting — and replied he did not.

1st officer on scene

One of the first police officers on the scene of the killing, Const. Nicole Gorham-Elder, took the witness box Thursday afternoon.

She said she was dispatched to the Garon apartment on the morning of June 30, arriving at 10:37. Several other officers attended the scene as well.

Const. Gorham-Elder testified she entered the apartment unit at 10:41, followed by two other officers. She said she smelled an odour of decomposition and saw the three bodies with bags around their heads and clear signs of trauma.

She testified they were in the process of leaving the crime scene when they heard some kind of gasp or cough. She said she and the other officers drew their guns and walked through the apartment to see if there were other victims or a suspect.

When she was satisfied there were no other victims or immediate threat, they exited the apartment and closed the door, taking as direct a path as possible so as not to "contaminate" the crime scene.

The trial continues Friday.