UPDATED: Family and friends of Amber Kirwan open testimony at Falconer trial

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PICTOU – The murder trial of Christopher Falconer opened Tuesday with testimony from people who knew the 19-year-old victim best.

Crown attorneys Patrick Young, left, and Bill Gorman talk to the media after testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Christopher Falconer concluded for Tuesday. The trial started with four witnesses testifying which included the victim's parents and friends. Falconer is accused of murdering 19-year-old Amber Kirwan in the fall of 2011. Sueann Musick – The News

Falconer is charged with first-degree murder in relation to the death of Amber Kirwan who went missing Oct. 9, 2011, after leaving a downtown pool hall. Her remains were found in Heathbell about a month later.

The 31-year-old Pictou County man was originally charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping, but the Crown decided the kidnapping charge was "duplicitous" and already encompassed in the murder charge.

In his opening statement, Crown attorney Bill Gorman said the case is "every parent's worst nightmare."

"Thanksgiving weekend Oct. 2011. Your daughter is out with friends and spends time socializing and makes arrangements to get a drive home. She never arrives for her drive. She never arrives home. Ever,"  he said.

He told the jurors that evidence will show that Kirwan had multiple stab wounds and died from excessive loss of blood. Gorman urged the jurors to pay close attention to the forensic evidence that will link Kirwan's DNA to the accused.

Kirwan's parents, Marjorie and Donald, were the first to take the stand Tuesday and painted a picture of a fun-loving and responsible daughter who had a close relationship with her parents.

"She was sweet and basically the best daughter in the world. No troubles. She was funny and happy. She was the perfect daughter," said Donald.

Both Marjorie and Donald Kirwan remained composed during their testimony that described their daughter's life, her relationship with her boyfriend Mason Campbell and their reactions to her disappearance and death.

"I was numb," said Donald upon hearing news from police officers on Nov. 5, 2011, that his daughter’s body had been found in a shallow grave in Heathbell. "I was devastated. Sick to my stomach."

Donald said Amber would never get in a car with strangers or even take a taxi by herself if she didn't know the driver. They often drove her to and from work, even though it was only five minutes from their home.

"It was the way we brought her up," said Marjorie. "It wouldn't be safe to walk alone."

Marjorie said she first learned of her daughter's disappearance on Oct. 9, 2011, when someone contacted her about a post on Facebook. She said she tried to reach Campbell right away, but didn't make contact with him until a few hours later. When Donald returned home from work around 4 p.m., they headed to the New Glasgow police station to file a missing person's report.

"The days after, we kept looking for her," Donald said. "We put posters up trying to find her. I was hoping someone had her. I was hoping she was still alive. It was a terrible thing to hope (that someone had her), but at least she would still be alive. I couldn't think the worst."

Donald said he knew as soon as he saw two police officers and a clergyman on his doorstep on Nov. 5, 2011, that she was gone.

Parts of the testimony from both the Kirwans focused on their relationship with Campbell. Amber and Mason had moved in together a short time before her disappearance, but both parents said she was still a frequent visitor to their home.

"She loved him," said Marjorie. "They got along well. Numerous times at the house they where together."

Donald said he wasn't thrilled with Amber moving in with Campbell at first because he worried that she wouldn't finish her schooling, but he didn't have any problems with her boyfriend.

"He treated Amber well," said Donald. "I never had any problems with him ever."

Both parents said they never heard Amber say Christopher Falconer's name.

During the afternoon, the 13-member jury heard from two friends of Kirwan who partied with her at her home before they headed out to Dooly's for dancing and mingling with friends.

Both Christie Fiander and Megan Curley testified that they and Kirwan were intoxicated when they left the home and headed to Dooly's in taxi.

Fiander, who wiped away tears during most of her testimony, said she spent most of the evening at the bar with Kirwan because she was without her boyfriend, Campbell.

"Mason Campbell didn't come to bar that night. He told her he would come later on but didn't end up coming. We went up to the bar, waited in line, got a drink, then we went to dance floor, dancing with friends," she said.

She said Kirwan called Campbell later in the evening and was "agitated" that he wasn't going to come out to the bar. Fiander said the last time she saw her friend was when Kirwan told her she was going to meet Campbell at Big Al's parking lot for a drive home around 1:45 a.m. on Oct. 9.

Both Fiander and Curley said their hands were stamped by Dooly's staff after paying admission and they both confirmed that pictures of clothing shown to them by the Crown looked identical to those worn by Kirwan that night.

They noted the sweater and top shown in the exhibits only looked different from those worn by Kirwan because the ones in the photos were dirty and ripped. The women also testified that she was wearing black leggings and flat black shoes that evening as well as feather earrings.

Testimony from more of Kirwan's friends is expected to continue today (Wednesday).

Organizations: Family and friends

Geographic location: Pictou County, New Glasgow

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