Judge withdraws police interrogation video as evidence from manslaughter trial

·4 min read
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)

The Court of Queen's Bench judge overseeing James Turpin's manslaughter trial has approved a withdrawal application to eliminate video footage and testimony as evidence from a November 2004 police interrogation.

This means hours of police interrogation footage and testimonies from at least three RCMP officers that were viewed earlier this week, will no longer be used in Turpin's trial.

The application, which was filed by the Crown, was approved by Justice Terrence Morrison following several technical glitches Friday morning. Because of COVID-19, almost all the Crown's witnesses have testified by video.

"This is very frustrating," said Justice Morrison, when the video cut out on one of the witnesses.

Turpin, now 41, is on trial for manslaughter in the toddler's death 17 years ago at the home where she lived with her mother, about 30 kilometres southeast of Fredericton.

The trial, which started Monday, has been under a voir dire this week. A voir dire is like a trial within a trial and is typically under a publication ban if a jury is present. But Turpin's trial is being heard by judge alone.

The Crown did say it is looking to introduce another statement Turpin made to police as new evidence, which wasn't used in the previous trial.

The statement was made in October, 2018 when Turpin's first conviction was before the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

6 witnesses called this week

The Crown previously called six witnesses this week, all of whom were RCMP officers.

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham put questions to Cst. Sylvie Carriere by video call Friday morning. Because of the latest withdrawal application, her testimony will no longer be considered in Turpin's trial.

Carriere was present in another room during the November, 2004 interrogation. She was also part of Turpin's first trial.

She was also present when James Turpin's mother, Sharon Turpin, came into the Bathurst police station, where officers were interrogating him at the time.

Carriere said Turpin's mom was aggressive and loud toward police. Gorham proceeds to read Carriere's notes, which say the woman was told she would not be able to see her son because she wasn't listening to police upon arrival.

"I don't think she would've gotten to see her son," Carriere told the court.

When asked if Turpin was told by officers that he could see his mother during the 18 hours of interrogation, Carriere said she couldn't recall.

A jury found James Turpin guilty of second-degree murder following a three-week trial in 2016. After an appeal in 2019, Turpin is now being tried in Fredericton on a manslaughter charge
A jury found James Turpin guilty of second-degree murder following a three-week trial in 2016. After an appeal in 2019, Turpin is now being tried in Fredericton on a manslaughter charge(CBC News)

The officer had a hard time recalling much of the details from the 2004 interrogation. And she hadn't written any notes during the actual interrogation process.

Carriere had been working as an RCMP officer for three years at that time. She said it was the first time she had ever been part of an interrogation where someone was arrested for killing a two-year-old.

"In that sense, fairly remarkable case for you with just three years experience, " Gorham said.

She agreed. Since then, Carriere said she has been involved in up to four interrogations involving the death of a baby.

Turpin has been sitting behind his defence lawyers at the Fredericton Convention Centre all week. For most of the week, he has remained expressionless.

Toddler alone with Turpin when she suffered brain injury

Kennedy was alone with Turpin when she suffered a major brain injury. She died at the IWK Hospital in Halifax a week later after being taken off life support.

Turpin was dating Kennedy's mother, Connie Corrigan, at the time. She is expected to testify next week.

This is the second time Turpin has been tried for the toddler's death. He wasn't charged until 2015, when he was living in Charlo. In 2016, Turpin was found guilty of second-degree murder, but in 2019 he successfully appealed his conviction.

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

The retrial will resume Monday morning.