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Toxicology expert testifies at murder trial

Christopher Garnier
Christopher Garnier

There were no drugs in Catherine Campbell's body but alcohol was found, according to a toxicology expert.

Christopher Keddy, a toxicology expert at the RCMP's National Forensic Services lab in Ottawa, took the stand Wednesday in the ongoing murder trial for Christopher Garnier who is charged with murdering Campbell in Sept. 2015 in Halifax. Campbell worked as a police officer in Truro and grew up in Stellarton.

According to Keddy, the lab examined vials of vitreous fluid from the eyes, as well as urine and blood samples. The alcohol readings were 214 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of vitreous fluid, 261 mg in 100 ml of urine and 169 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. Keddy said that levels above 120-150 mg can mean impairment, but the body and brain can build up a tolerance to alcohol.

Eyewitnesses who saw Campbell at the Alehouse and as she left early on Sept. 11 noted that she was steady on her feet and able to both hail a cab and pay for it on her debit card. Keddy said this suggested "some aspect of control." He also said that it "clearly demonstrated some tolerance to the effects of alcohol. Alcohol tolerance "requires repeated exposure," which can be achieved over a period of time by regular Friday or Saturday night drinking, for example. Keddy also said that if someone in Campbell's condition had physical control, then "a degree of mental awareness should also remain."

Earlier in the day the courtroom heard from a witness David Gregory Yeo. On Sept. 11, 2015, he lived in Hamilton Lane near Barrington Street. He woke up at 5:10 or 5:12 a.m. to make coffee, he said.

He testified that he looked toward Barrington and observed a man struggling to pull a green bin across Barrington. He was "dragging it towards that tree line underneath the overpass," he said. The man he saw then returned. He was seen screaming, cursing, laughing and throwing the bin about.

"He was very peculiar, out of place," Yeo said.

Yeo described the man as wearing a light-coloured T-shirt and gym pants that were maybe grey.

The next witness to testify was Halifax Regional Police officer David Robertson. On the night of Sept. 15-16 he was plainclothes and helping to track a man identified as Garnier. He saw a white Ford drive past on Willet Street. In the early hours of Sept. 16 the vehicle was stopped. "My interaction with him was very, very brief." He helped to search Garnier and retrieved keys and a lighter.

Halifax Regional Police officer Kenneth Burton was also working in plainclothes that night and was in an unmarked car. He helped track a Ford Edge from Clayton Park towards North Street, Barrington and then back to Clayton Park.

There, Garnier was arrested during a traffic stop in the early hours of Sept. 16. Police found items including a tarp, tape, yellow rope, a brown blanket, gloves and a backpack in the vehicle. Defence lawyer Joel Pink questioned whether the items could be for Garnier's legitimate employment.

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