October 30, 2015 - 4:40 PM
KAMLOOPS - The case against a man accused of setting a fire which caused the death of one of his house guests has concluded and now jurors are being asked to consider if one of the key witnesses in the case was honest or started the fire himself.
Crown Prosecutor Neil Flanagan and defence counsel Ken Tessovitch both delivered their closing arguments to the jury today, Oct. 30 — the last day of David Peter Gordon’s trial in Kamloops Supreme Court.
Gordon is facing two arson charges and one manslaughter charge after his house caught fire in the early morning hours of April 25, 2013. Gordon and his roommate, William Tomporowski escaped the blaze, but Toporowski’s girlfriend, Cheryl William, wasn’t retrieved until firefighters arrived on scene. She died in hospital four days after the event.
THE CASE AGAINST GORDON
Flanagan said the case against Gordon hinged on the confession he made with police, his aggressive behaviour toward police the night of the incident and the detailed evidence Tomporowski delivered against the accused.
"Mr. Gordon told (police) he started the fire. Mr. Gordon made that admission because he wanted to. He intentionally started the fire,” Flanagan said.
Crown reminded jurors about Tomporowski’s evidence in which he recounted Gordon telling him that he lit the fire and wanted to kill him and his girlfriend William.
Throughout trial, the jury heard evidence which suggested Gordon lit the fire after a domestic incident with his girlfriend. While in the bedroom of the house on 927 St. Paul Street, Gordon told police he was drinking and lit a corner of a box on fire in his room.
Flanagan said Gordon’s behaviour delayed police from interviewing him. He noted several witnesses who said Gordon was combative, threatened them and urinated on the floor of his jail cell.
Jurors heard other witnesses describe seeing an argument between Tomporowski on the street where the roommate accused Gordon of setting the fire.
Flanagan added Tomporowski’s emotional state on the stand showed how the incident haunted him and noted he said he felt guilty for not being able to pull William from the blaze. Flanagan said William wasn't a small woman; it took two firefighters to pull her from the home.
Flanagan said Tomporowski managed to escape the blaze by covering his face with William's pants and crawling to the door.
“He knew both (Tomporowski) and (William) are in the house at the time and after the time he sets fire to the box of clothes," he said.
THE CASE FOR GORDON
Tessovitch said while Gordon may have told police he started the fire, there could have been other elements at play to convince him to make a false statement.
He pointed at how police charged Gordon with causing William’s death before she even passed away and said it could have caused him to think differently about how he proceeded with police.
“If you were arrested tonight, arrested for criminal negligence causing death, would that affect you differently psychologically? Think about that. Is that a factor?” he asked the jury.
He also noted Gordon was ‘humiliated’ when police took his clothes off for forensic analysis and he was given a cold cell to sleep in with no mattress, blanket or socks.
“This is all psychological,” Tessovitch said.
He seized on Tomporowski’s evidence about the night of the fire and said it was far too detailed.
"He could be so specific because he’s the one that lit the fire. Perhaps he has all those details at his fingertips because he has a motive to not be truthful,” Tessovitch said.
He pointed out Tomporowski and Gordon fought before the fire was lit. Toporowski and William were having sex while Gordon was making loud noises throughout the house, which gave the roommate a reason to be angry.
Tessovitch said Tomporowski lied to police when he told them he led William to the kitchen before they were overcome by smoke.
"What he indicated was he didn’t remember that; he made that up. He made that up to make himself look good,” Tessovitch said. “Here’s an individual who’s sober some time period after the incident happened — making a statement to the police where he’s lying."
The jurors will be excused to deliberate after Justice Hope Hyslop’s direction Monday morning.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015