'A man on the run': Jurors hear closing arguments in cold case murder trial

·4 min read
Stéphane Parent is on trial for second-degree murder in the 2002 death of his girlfriend Adrienne McColl.  (Postmedia - image credit)
Stéphane Parent is on trial for second-degree murder in the 2002 death of his girlfriend Adrienne McColl. (Postmedia - image credit)

The fatal attack on Adrienne McColl was "hands-on, personal, intimate, violent," said prosecutor Shane Parker while urging a Calgary judge to find the victim's former boyfriend guilty of murder.

"The type of attack you may infer was mustered by rage," he added.

On Thursday, lawyers for the prosecution and defence made their final arguments to jurors.

Parker has asked jurors to convict Stéphane Parent of second-degree murder more than 19 years after McColl suffered a skull fracture and was fatally strangled.

'Bliss' and 'outbursts'

In 2002, Adrienne McColl was 21 years old. She'd been with Parent, who was 12 years her senior, for two years but things were rocky by February.

The couple was living separately after their baby was stillborn. They were broke but McColl had just landed a new job and was living with her stepfather, John McGee.

Parent was homeless after the car he'd been living in was towed.

"It was a relationship marked by bliss and periods of outburst, even physical outbursts," said Parker.

'Man on the run'

The prosecution says the evidence presented to jurors over the last few weeks shows McColl was killed on Valentine's Day 2002 — hours before Parent bought a one-way ticket to Ottawa and never returned, not even for the funeral of his "soulmate."

"It's panic," said Parker. "Running from the scene of a crime is powerful evidence.… Stéphane Parent was a man on the run."

Mary Haasdyk
Mary Haasdyk

But defence lawyer Gavin Wolch argued Thursday that McColl was killed on Feb. 17, after Parent flew east.

Wolch suggested there is no evidence of when the body was dumped alongside a rural road near Nanton, Alta.

"The most likely time of death is two days after Mr. Parent is across the country," said Wolch.

'Innocent explanations': defence

The defence lawyer said much of the case rests on circumstantial evidence for which he argued there are "innocent explanations."

"Zero plus zero plus zero equals zero," said Wolch.

Initially, McColl's 2002 killing went cold. But in 2018, Parent was arrested in Quebec and charged with murder.

On Feb. 12, 2002, John McGee left the home he shared with McColl for a golfing trip in Phoenix.

He told McColl she was not allowed to have Parent over to his home.

But it was "the worst kept secret" that he was staying there, said Parker.

The timeline

On Feb. 13, McColl missed a waitressing shift while she attended court with Parent. She called her employer to say she wouldn't make it.

That day, McColl also made plans with friends for the next day.

On Feb. 14, Adrienne McColl was seen and heard from for the last time. She was spotted by a neighbour that afternoon driving by and she called and left a message for her best friend.

But McColl never showed up for her shift at the diner. She never picked up her paycheque, despite needing the money, and she never made it to meet her friends.

Missing bedsheet key: Crown

On Feb. 15 at 5:49 a.m., Parent bought a one-way ticket to Ottawa for $615 and stayed in a hotel in the Capital city despite having almost no money and family nearby.

Later that day, McGee's housecleaner showed up and found McColl's bedsheet missing from her bed.

The strongest evidence which refutes the defence claim of a Feb. 17 killing, said Parker, is that same bedsheet was found draped over McColl's body discovered in a rural ditch.

On Feb. 17, a defence witness testified that she saw a young blond woman running in a field with a truck "plodding along behind her."

Fingerprints and DNA

The witness said the woman stopped and pointed at the truck at one point and looked angry.

Defence lawyers suggest this woman was McColl.

It was 84 kilometres away, and only hours later, that McColl's body was discovered.

Parent's fingerprints were found on one of the garbage bags discovered under her body.

'An escape'

As police investigated the homicide, they found McGee's car in the airport parking lot. McGee told his sister he'd driven the vehicle there for a planned trip.

"Feb. 15 was not a planned trip," said Parker. "Don't be fooled, it was an escape."

Two stalls down from where the car was parked were a pair of jeans. The jeans had Parent's DNA on them, as well as McColl's blood.

On Friday, jurors will hear the judge's final instructions on how to apply the law to their deliberations.

Then they will be sequestered until a verdict is reached.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting