Kirwan case: Accused asked girlfriend to lie about whereabouts

Staff ~ The News
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PICTOU – An ex-girlfriend of Christopher Falconer said he asked her to lie for him.

Jerricka Ebrahim, a former girlfriend of the accused, was on the witness stand Wednesday at the first-degree murder trial of Christopher Falconer. Artist sketch by Joan Krawczyk

Jerricka Ebrahim testified in court Wednesday that she told Falconer sometime after Amber Kirwan went missing on Oct. 9 that police were asking questions about him and he asked her lie and say they were together.

"Just lie and say I was with you," she said. "Just don't say that I wasn't."

She told Crown attorney Patrick Young she would lie for him because she "really liked him."

Falconer, 31, is on trial in Pictou Supreme Court in front of a 13-person jury, accused of killing 19-year-old Kirwan between Oct. 9 and Nov. 5.  

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Mike Taylor, Ebrahim admitted that Falconer never specified which day he needed an alibi and he could have been talking about Oct. 8, 9, or 10. She said at the time she believed he was looking to stay out of trouble because of his parole.

"He didn't give me a time frame," she said. "I didn't know. He said the cops were going to be after him for something and he made it seem like his parole. He was around alcohol and doing stuff and he thought he was going to be caught."

Taylor spent considerable time cross-examining this witness, asking her about previous police statements and her testimony about time spent with Falconer on Thanksgiving weekend.

She told the Crown she met Falconer at a former friend's house in the summer of 2011. They became "friends with benefits," adding that he would spend the night at her Brother Street apartment a few nights a week.

Ebrahim said on Oct. 8, 2011, she texted Falconer to drive her and her children to the babysitter’s. He did so then dropped her back at her apartment afterwards. She confirmed for the Crown that he was driving a grey, Chevrolet Impala and often wore dark-coloured tank tops and shorts. When he came to her place, he usually had clothing and personal items in a backpack.

Young read out many text messages Ebrahim and Falconer exchanged between Oct. 8 and 9. She asked him to come to her house for some drinks since she was having friends over before heading out to the Glasgow Pub later that evening.

In the text, she asked him if he wanted to have sex to which he responded, "no, I am a little down tonight to be honest." He asked her if she wanted to watch a movie to which she responded jokingly, "porn" and "It makes you feel better." He replied, "it always does."

She said Falconer arrived at her place around 9:30 p.m. and she and friends left a while later for the pub. She is unsure if he drove her to the pub. Around midnight, she texted Falconer as she was leaving the pub and asked where he was. He replied he was close by.

Ebrahim texted back, saying "stay at your wonderful girlfriend's place. I ditched my friends to watch a movie and you ditched me." She testified she walked home and went to bed alone, but at 5 a.m. on Oct. 9, she received a text from Falconer.

"Sorry to make you wait. I am at dad's now," his text read. "Not coming for a bit."

Ebrahim said she saw him around noon on Oct. 9, and he drove her to pick up her kids from the sitter.

She added that when she found out Kirwan's remains were found, she mentioned it to Falconer, who was with her at the time, and he grabbed his backpack and left the apartment, saying he had something to do. He returned a few hours later.

Taylor questioned how much of the evening of Oct. 8 or the next day Ebrahim actually remembered considering her alcohol intake and how much other people refreshed her memory. She said she’d drunk a quart of rum or vodka that night but he contested this by pointing out that during the preliminary inquiry, she said she split a 40 oz bottle of liquor with two other people. Ebrahim also said she smoked three marijuana joints that night.

She admitted that friends filled in many gaps in her memory from that night.

'You don't have a good recollection of that night, do you," asked Taylor. "You don't remember do you?"

He asked her if she met up with Falconer in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 to which she responded she didn't think so.

Taylor pointed out that she told the Crown she walked home and went to bed alone, but in her May 2012 police statement she said, "I did go out with friends, and I did end up making it home. Between that time, I have no idea."

She told police she didn't think she saw Falconer that night after the pub because he usually spends the night.

"You’re saying you have no idea, which means you don't remember anything," said Taylor. "Now you are saying your memory has changed."

Taylor asked her about one police statement in November 2011, and another one in May 2012, when she told officers that Falconer asked her to lie for him.

The defence lawyer questioned her several times as to why she made the second statement and why her memory improved within six months time from the first statement.

She said she was picked up from school by police in May 2012, but she doesn't know why they wanted to talk to her again. Taylor pointed out that she talked to her friend to refresh her memory of that Oct. 8 weekend before her May police interview, yet she testified she didn't know police were coming to get her at her school.

"This was just a big confidence was it?" he asked her.

Taylor asked her about an incident involving Falconer's stepmother that he suggested may have triggered the second police interview. She confirmed she had been writing to Falconer after his arrest in May 2012, but stopped and this caused his stepmother to have an argument with her.

"I told her I wasn't going to send any more letters," she said, testifying that they exchanged unpleasant words over this. She later received a letter from Falconer telling her not to disrespect his stepmother.

Taylor pointed out it was shortly after this exchange with his stepmother and Falconer's letter that she made the second statement to police and brought up the issue of his need for an alibi and other details she hadn't mentioned in previous statements.

Ebrahim, who broke down in tears during both the Crown and defence questions, said she was confused at the time of the statements because of everyone harassing her.

"I was being harassed by people and being asked the same questions over and over again," she said.

In a media scrum following Ebrahim's testimony, Taylor said there were a lot of inconsistencies in her testimony.

"If you have a witness that is changing her evidence or giving different answers at different times for whatever reason, the jury has to consider that when looking at overall credibility."

However, Young said it is not surprising Ebrahim had some "gaps in her memory" considering that she was drinking on the night of Oct 8 and smoking marijuana.

"What is important to take away is the text messages that corroborate her testimony. The text messages fill in the gap after she went to the bar that night and the next day."

He added the text messages show that he was near her New Glasgow apartment before Kirwan went missing and the next morning he is in the Heathbell area.

The trial will continue Thursday with testimony from a DNA specialist.

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Heathbell

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