September 28, 2015 - 10:30 AM
KAMLOOPS — A man accused of murdering his 16-year-old girlfriend told the front desk clerk of a men's shelter in Prince George that he knew the teen was pregnant with his child before her death.
Fowler's boyfriend, Damien Lawrence Taylor, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the teen's death. The two were scheduled to board a Greyhound bus bound for Terrace from Kamloops on Dec. 5. However, Fowler’s body was found in a ravine by Guerin Creek after leaving Royal Inland Hospital where she discovered she was pregnant some hours earlier. Her cause of death was asphyxia after her airway was crushed with a concrete block, Crown said.
Stacy Romaniuk, with the Ketso Yoh men's shelter, testified in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Sept. 28 that Taylor arrived at a men’s shelter in Prince George Dec. 6. She said Romaniuk checked his backpack several times and each time Taylor left and re-entered the building according to shelter policy. At the beginning of the night, Romaniuk said the bag was full of T-shirts, bandanas and a couple of bus tickets. But when Taylor came back with fewer shirts and a breaker bar, or socket wrench, inside the pack Romaniuk said she confiscated it because of its potential use as a weapon. After the bar was seized by RCMP, forensic investigators found Fowler’s DNA on it.
Romaniuk said she noticed a change in Taylor’s demeanour when she searched his items. As a regular at the shelter, she said she’d had other run-ins with him in the past — particularly when she asked to search his bag, but this time he was more relaxed.
“If I searched and he didn’t want me to, he would storm off basically every time,” she said. Romaniuk said Taylor was a frequent drug user based on drug baggies she found in his bag on previous occasions. She said she suspected he was a dealer.
Romaniuk also said when she informed Taylor that Fowler was found dead, she saw him 'well up, but no tears fell'.
"He told me he found out she was pregnant two days ago," she said.
Prosecutor Alex Janse said there was a ‘very strong support of paternity’ in the DNA comparison between Taylor and the fetus during Fowler's autopsy. The chance of him not being the father was one in 250,000, she said.
The DNA evidence showed statistical certainty of both Fowler and Taylor's blood on a variety of items strewn near where Fowler's body was found.
A pair of jeans, a hoodie, a pair of black pants, a cigarette and two shoes with blood spatter were among those listed. Most of the DNA included on the items matched Fowler's blood, but DNA found on the waistband of a pair of pants and the cigarette matched Taylor’s. For those items, Janse said it was a one in 69 billion chance it wasn’t his DNA.
A pair of socks marked with Fowler’s blood were found in a Prince George hotel room where Taylor stayed Dec. 6. They were seized by Cpl. John Grierson with the Prince George RCMP who told the jury he also found a ripped up Greyhound ticket in the room’s toilet.
Prior to the discovery, Taylor was interviewed by officers and treated as a witness, not a suspect.
“He was giving appropriate responses. It was behaviour we would expect from a witness,” Grierson said.
THE TEEN’S CELLPHONE
Const. Brian Merriman from the Prince George RCMP says he received direction from investigators to search for a piece of evidence on the rooftop of the RCMP detachment. It was a touchscreen Samsung phone registered to the Virgin Mobile Network, believed to be Fowler's. Merriman said he found it on the roof, close to a narrow alleyway which separated the detachment and the City Centre Inn - the hotel where Taylor stayed.
Merriman said the device was held together with tape and bore two Monster Energy drink stickers. He did not say why he was asked to look there.
Crown said a SD card matching the requirements of the phone was found in Taylor’s backpack. On the card were pictures of both the accused and Fowler, some of which were taken on Dec. 4 — the day before the teen died. The last two phone calls were to the Ministry of Children Development’s after hours line at 1:45 a.m. and 2:47 a.m. Janse said.
The last text message was from Fowler to her step-father. It read “love you, Dad. We miss you."
EARLIER IN THE DAY
In the morning session during her opening statement, Janse said before Fowler planned to go home on the Greyhound. She called the RCMP after having an argument with her friend. Janse said Fowler was later taken to Royal Inland Hospital because she complained of chest pains attributed to crystal meth use.
Janse said a witness is expected to say Fowler left the hospital before 3 a.m. after having a loud argument with Taylor. It was the last time the teen was seen alive.
Security video showed the accused entering the Greyhound bus station alone before 6 a.m. Dec. 5, Janse said. He boarded the bus to Prince George and was intercepted by police once he arrived.
He was officially arrested in January 2014, more than a year after her body was found.
Crown is expected to interview 21 witnesses before the jury made up of five women and seven men.
-This story was updated at 11:58 a.m. Sept. 28, 2015 with information from the morning court session.
-This story was updated at 4:48 p.m. Sept. 28, 2015 with information from the afternoon court session.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015