No sign of accused's fingerprints in camper at focus of murder trial

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PICTOU – No fingerprints from Christopher Falconer were found in a Hardwood Hill camper that captured police investigators attention for five days in November 2011.

Artist's depiction shows the accused, Christopher Falconer, at his first-degree murder trial in Pictou, with his father and grandfather in the foreground, Scott Falconer Sr. and Scott Falconer Jr. Artist's sketch by Joan Krawczyk

Cpl. Matthew Mader, a member of the RCMP forensic unit, confirmed Tuesday in Pictou Supreme Court during the first-degree murder trial of 31-year-old Falconer that prints from the accused did not turn up on any items seized and tested from the travel camper in Hardwood Hill.

Outside the courtroom, defence lawyer Mike Taylor said he focused on this line of questioning because if someone is accused of a crime, there probably would be some evidence of them being there.

"If a person is accused of an offence in a particular area, you might expect to see something from that person and there was nothing from Mr. Falconer."

Falconer is accused of killing Amber Kirwan between Oct. 9 and Nov. 5, 2011. She disappeared from downtown New Glasgow on Oct. 9 and her remains were found a month later in a wooded area off Heathbell Road.

Falconer's fingerprints did show up on the hood of a Chevrolet Impala he was driving and a bag that was found inside another bag in the car.

Crown attorney Bill Gorman said it is significant that Falconer's fingerprints were found on that bag because of the other items that were with it in Impala.

"I think the evidence from Cpl. Mader is important because the bag with fingerprints is in the same bag as a black tank top," he said. "People will see the link between Falconer and Amber when they hear from the DNA experts later in the week."

Mader testified that he seized an XL black tank top from the Implala and examined it for hair, fibres and staining.

He said staining was on centre of the shirt that works its way down to the bottom. He testified that presumptive testing was done for blood and it came back positive. It also tested positive for human blood.

Mader told the 13-member jury he first became involved in the Kirwan missing person investigation when he arrived at the access road in Heathbell on Oct. 15. He seized black leggings and earrings from the area and he returned later that day to take tire track impressions from the access road.

Under cross-examination by Taylor, he said the RCMP compared the tire tracks to the vehicle driven by Falconer and they did not match.

On Oct. 16, Mader was informed that RCMP were seizing Mason Campbell's car and he did an examination of that vehicle before it was taken on a flatbed to Bible Hill for further examination.

He said some staining was tested on the exterior of the vehicle and the presumptive test for blood was negative. Two other areas were swabbed for further analysis. Other items seized included duct tape and packing tape as well as a backpack that contained Michelin gloves, a drug bong apparatus, bear spray and an Advil container that looked like it had residue marijuana in it.

Mader told the defence that the duct tape and shovel were examined but no further testing was done. He said the shovel is still in RCMP storage.

Mader also took part in the Kirwan autopsy in Halifax on Nov. 7 during which time many hairs and fibres were seized from the front and back of her remains. He said he also attempted to take fingerprints from Kirwan's body, but the decomposition made it very difficult so he called in an another expert in the field to help.

From Nov. 8  to 13, Mader attended the search of a camper in Hardwood Hill. His testimony was similar to that of Sgt. Darlene MacEachern of the RCMP Identification unit who identified the towels, duct tape and a piece of black fabric in the camper.

He told Taylor that the camper was mess inside and it was evident it had not been not cleaned in a while. He added that a fingerprint lifted from a propane tank in the trailer and a green garbage bag didn't match Falconer.

Following the RCMP officer's testimony, the jury heard from toxicology expert Lori Campbell who confirmed that Kirwan had a toxic level of codeine in her body.

She said the codeine, in combination with the morphine and acetaminophen also found in her system indicates the drugs probably came from consuming Tylenol products with codeine. She added the drugs were in her system long enough to start breaking down.

Campbell's testimony will continue Wednesday morning. 

Organizations: RCMP, Campbell's

Geographic location: Hardwood Hill, New Glasgow, Heathbell Road Bible Hill Halifax

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