Slain man's girlfriend testifies at Willier murder trial
The girlfriend of murder victim Nathan Alcide Marshall became tearful Tuesday as she recalled the couple's last days together. Michelle Fulljames said she was living in a duplex on Hemlock St. with Marshall in the months leading up to his Feb. 17, 2010 fatal shooting. They'd been in a relationship four or five months, she said.
Anthony Robert Willier, 22, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George charged with first degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Marshall.
In her testimony, she related what happened the day before, on Feb. 16. up to the early morning hours of Feb. 17. After driving a friend home, a plan for Fulljames to meet up with Willier at a local pub and "grab some money" for Marshall fell through so she returned home, she said.
"I went to bed and I tried to get Nate to come to bed, but he wouldn't," said Fulljames, crying and dabbing her eyes. She paused, then described how she woke up sometime after 4 a.m.
"I asked (two friends in the house) where's Nate?" she said. "And as soon as I said that, we heard gun shots go off...we didn't know what was going on. We were just freaking out."
Responding to a question by Crown counsel Oleh Kuzma, Fulljames said she didn't want to call police because she worried about sureties her parents put up for Marshall, who'd just been released from jail a few days earlier and was now on probation. She said she didn't know what was going on.
"I wanted to go outside but (they) wouldn't let me," she said.
"How many shots do you recall from that morning?" asked Kuzma.
"A few," said Fulljames. Asked what happened next, Fulljames answered, "I kept calling his (Nate's) cell phone and he didn't answer...Then I heard the cop cars and the ambulance. I told (an RCMP member) that my boyfriend was missing and he said someone will be around to talk to you."
She did not see Marshall that morning, she said.
Kuzma asked the witness about an earlier meeting she had with Willier at the request of Marshall when he was still in jail.
"When Nate was in jail (Jan. 6 to Feb. 7) he asked me to get money for a lawyer and to meet "Annie" (nickname for Anthony Willier) for money."
Asked if she collected money from Willier, Fulljames said yes.
Kuzma asked the witness about the relationship of the two men at that time,
"They were friends, I thought," she said.
Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Keith Aartsen asked Fulljames how she felt about Willier back in Feb. 2010.
"You did not fear him and had no reason to fear him?"
"You had no reason to believe there were such threats out there?"
"Did you consider Mr. Willier a friend?"
"Have you ever received any threats from Mr. Willer either against yourself or Mr. Marshall."
Another witness, a 911 operator, testified about the call she took Feb. 17, 2010 from a woman in the Hemlock neighbourhood who reported hearing gunshots. A CD recording of the call was played for the court. On it, the female caller is heard saying, "I didn't see anything. I just heard the gunshots."
Police officers dispatched to the area searched Fort George Park and patrolled the surrounding area but did not find anything unusual. A second call took them back to the area. RCMP Const. Travis Matlock testified about what he saw at the crime scene.
"We received a complaint of a man down about 7:20 a.m.," he said.
"At first it was difficult to locate the individual because of a large snowbank."
When he found the victim, Matlock said, "his right hand was gripping a white picket fence. He was very cold. I could not feel a pulse."
When ambulance personnel cut open the man's shirt to apply paddles in an attempt to revive him, Matlock said he noticed the man's left flank "with what appeared to be blood" and two bullet holes in the man's chest. The officer said there was a bullet and spent shell casings on the ground from what he believed was a handgun.
Another witness, a 43-year resident of Prince George, said that she got up earlier than usual, just after 7 p.m. Feb. 17, 2010, to get ready for church. She opened the curtains and saw a "black bump" learning up against the front fence. The witness said she put on her boots and coat, and went outside to get a closer look.
"I saw an arm around the picket (fence) and a leg sticking up in the air...and I went back into the house and phoned 911."
The woman said she couldn't get closer to the body because of a high snowbank and her own physical restrictions.
BC Supreme Court Justice James Williams is the presiding judge in the case. The first degree murder trial which began Monday before a nine-man, three-woman jury is expected to last two weeks.
In testimony Wednesday, Crown witness RCMP Const. Rioux said that he responded to a report March 1, 2010 that Anthony Willier was walking towards 2281 Norwood St. with a 9mm handgun and bullet proof vest. Police attended the house but could not locate Willier, he said.
Willier is charged with first degree murder in the Feb. 17, 2010 shooting death of one-time friend Nathan Alcide Marshall. The case is being heard in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George.
Rioux said they left the house, patrolled the area and set up surveillance nearby. Later that day, with emergency response team members on site, Willier came out of the house and gave himself up. Rioux said he arrested Willier, advised him of his rights, and charged him with first-degree murder. The officer said that Willier appeared shocked when the charge was read and said, "what?"
Noting his client's arrest came two weeks after the murder, defence counsel Keith Aartsen asked Rioux during cross examination: "Did you find a 9 mm handgun?"
"No, I did not," said Rioux.
Another officer, RCMP Const. Brian Merriman, said he examined a cell phone recovered from the body of Nathan Marshall and sealed it in an exhibit bag and checked for contact lists, phone and text messages. Later a production order obtained for the telephone company gave police documents that detailed incoming and outgoing phone calls and text messages.
Merriman said he found "quite a few" text messages exchanged between 2 a.m. and 4:40 a.m. the morning of the murder, Feb. 17, 2010. The officer said he saw the name Annie W. and Annie W. New on the contact list and noted the early morning texts appeared to be discussions about paying off debt and meeting at Marshall's house or in that area, he said.
Cross-examined by Aartsen, Merriman agreed he was not able to examine cell phones for either an Annie W. or Annie W.
The third RCMP member to take the stand Wednesday was an undercover police officer who cannot be publicly identified due to a court-ordered publication ban. He gave evidence about various conversations he said took place between Willier and himself on the cell block soon after Willier was arrested March 1, 2010 for the murder of Nathan Marshall.
The first degree murder trial of Anthony Robert Willier continues today before a nine-man, three-woman jury. The case is being presided over by B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams.