Accused gave 2 different accounts of what happened to injured toddler, says security guard

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Two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan suffered a massive brain injury on April 2, 2004, and died a week later at the IWK Hospital in Halifax. (Court exhibit - image credit)
Two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan suffered a massive brain injury on April 2, 2004, and died a week later at the IWK Hospital in Halifax. (Court exhibit - image credit)

A security guard at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton recalls a northern New Brunswick man accused in the death of two year-old Kennedy Corrigan providing two separate accounts to hospital staff about what happened to the toddler the day she suffered a fatal head injury.

Eugene Kincade testified Thursday that James Turpin told one person she had slipped and hit her head in the bathtub. Then he told someone else he had opened the bathroom door, startled Kennedy, and that's when she slipped and fell, Kincade said.

"I remember him saying that … 'I opened the door, startled the baby and she hit her head' … that's what stuck with me."

Kennedy died April 9, 2004, from a severe brain injury at her home in Central Blissville, about 30 kilometres southeast of Fredericton. At the time of her injury, Kennedy was under the care of Turpin, who is now on trial for manslaughter.

The 41-year-old has already been found guilty once for Kennedy's death and successfully appealed the verdict.

The day of the incident, Kincade testified, he took Turpin to the hospital's crying room because he was disrupting medical staff who were caring for Kennedy.

"He was just very upset with what had taken place and what's going on," said the retired security officer.

When Turpin arrived in the crying room, Kincade shut the door and stood in the hallway outside. Turpin kept trying to open the door to get out, so Kincade joined Turpin in the crying room, where he kept asking to see Kennedy.

"I just told him no, he wasn't allowed," Kincade said. "He had to stay in the quiet room."

When Turpin's defence team pressed Kincade about his recollection of what happened, the 62-year-old did say it was hard to remember specifically who Turpin was talking to and some of the other things he said.

"I was dealing with an upset father," Kincade said. "I didn't think years later I would have to know."

'Is she breathing?'

Dan Quintal, a security manager at the hospital, recalled seeing Kennedy on the stretcher when paramedics arrived.

He couldn't see any visible injuries such as bleeding or bruising. But he noticed she was breathing because her chest was rising up and down.

Quintal said Turpin kept saying, "Is she breathing? Is she breathing? Is she breathing? … He was not looking at the child. He was not very attentive to the child, which I found very odd."

Quintal also recalled Turpin pushing and punching the hospital's sliding glass doors until they came off their rails. Then, he pried the doors open with his two hands and ran inside. That's when Quintal decided to call for backup.

Turpin seemed sincere when relating how toddler died

A longtime friend of Turpin recalled being told the toddler's slip in the bathtub was an accident.

Lance McGregor heard James Turpin's account of what happened while they were in the Chalmers waiting room with two security guards.

"He's sincere," said McGregor, who has known Turpin for about 20 years but said he is more of an acquaintance now.

"If you get into an accident you're upset. You're concerned. It's only normal."

The day Kennedy was rushed to hospital, McGregor received a phone call from Kennedy's mother, Connie Corrigan, explaining what happened.

A jury found James Turpin guilty of second-degree murder following a three-week trial in 2016. After an appeal in 2019, a new trial was ordered. This time he's on trial for manslaughter.
A jury found James Turpin guilty of second-degree murder following a three-week trial in 2016. After an appeal in 2019, a new trial was ordered. This time he's on trial for manslaughter.(Elizabeth Fraser/CBC)

McGregor went to the Fredericton hospital where he provided Turpin with a pair of pants.

Several medical staff testified earlier that Turpin was in nothing but a T-shirt and underwear when he was at the hospital.

Returning to Central Blissville

When medical staff decided Kennedy should be airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, McGregor drove Turpin back to his home in Central Blissville.

McGregor went to pick up Turpin's three-year-old daughter at the neighbour's house, while Turpin went inside the house where he was staying to pick up his daughter's clothes and a car seat.

When the defence asked how long they were at the residence in Central Blissville, McGregor said it wasn't long since they had a lot of driving ahead of them.

"We're looking at a seven-hour drive."

They took Turpin's daughter to her mother in Dalhousie, about a four-hour drive.

Then they immediately turned around.

McGregor, whose memory was a bit fuzzy during his testimony, believes he and Turpin carried on in general conversation throughout the drive. McGregor doesn't recall asking about the incident.

"I don't think I had any reason to ask," he said. "This was back in 2004."

The next time McGregor heard from Turpin was that same evening. Turpin was calling him from the RCMP detachment in Oromocto. He was pulled over while on his way to the IWK in Halifax.

McGregor picked him up at the police station and let Turpin sleep on his couch in Fredericton. He said when he woke up, Turpin was gone.

During Turpin's first trial in 2016, McGregor recalled stopping at a phone booth at least four times so Turpin could call Connie Corrigan or her cousin Ali Corrigan, who lived with them.

Autopsy was required

The court also heard from Dr. John Smith, a former medical examiner, who oversaw Kennedy's autopsy.

Smith said the procedure was mandatory because her death was viewed as "undetermined" by doctors.

"Even the ones that aren't suspicious. If you don't know the cause, you have to do what you can to determine that," Smith said by video call Thursday.

"The autopsy provides more information. Once it's done, you're not going back."

Doctors involved in the autopsy also took vaginal and rectal swaps to see if there was any evidence of sexual abuse.

The doctor who conducted the autopsy in 2004 has since died. He also didn't testify at Turpin's first trial in 2016 because he had dementia.

The Court of Appeal found there wasn't enough evidence of murder and ordered a new trial on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The trial has almost concluded its second week and is being heard by judge alone.