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Forensics officer tells court of disarray in homicide suite

Nov 01 2012

A Victoria police forensic identification officer described the disarray he found in a small Pembroke Street apartment the night Leslie Hankel was shot and killed.

Jonathan Sheldan, who now assists the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, testified Wednesday at the second-degree murder trial of Andrew Belcourt and Samuel Mcgrath.

The accused have pleaded guilty to robbery with a firearm and breaking into Hankel's apartment. The jury must decide whether they are also guilty of murdering the 52-year-old Victoria man, who suffered from mental-health problems.

Sheldan told the B.C. Supreme Court jury that he was called to a homicide just before 1 a.m. on March 3, 2010, and arrived at the apartment building at 1: 45 a.m.

Sheldan testified that the first thing he noticed was the damage to the door frame. Wooden trim from the frame was inside the apartment. The officer could also see objects on the floor.

"The apartment was in a general state of disarray," Sheldan testified.

A telephone was on the floor under a chair in the living room, he said. A phone cord with no end plug was also on the floor.

All the cupboard doors in the kitchen were open, Sheldan testified. White plastic bags were on the countertop and on the kitchen floor.

The bedroom, which measured three metres by 2.7 metres, was also in disarray, Sheldan testified. Drawers, pulled out of a dressing table, were on the floor. Plastic bags and prescription medicine were on the floor.

Hankel's mattress had been pushed off the top of the box spring and was pressed up against the wall, Sheldan testified.

Hankel's upper body and shoulders were on the mattress, Sheldan said. The rest of Han-kel's body was on the box spring.

Sheldan estimated that the distance from the door of the bedroom to the box spring was about 1.2 metres.

As he entered the bedroom, Sheldan noticed something inside a plastic bag on the ground. It turned out to be an expended shotgun shell, he testified.

Sheldan also noticed a shotgun hole in the ceiling near the light fixture.

The forensic identification officer found muddy running-shoe prints on the front door and mud on the doorknob. The doorknob had also been damaged, Sheldan testified.

A small amount of marijuana was found in the apartment, Sheldan said. He told the jury he found a marijuana pipe in the kitchen drawer with a small amount of lower-quality stems. Another small amount of marijuana was in Hankel's bedroom.

As the jury looked at photographs of the crime scene, prosecutor Catherine Murray asked Sheldan about a dark object lying on the upper left corner of the mattress.

"What was that?" Murray asked.

"That was a portion of his ear," replied Sheldan, who took it as an exhibit.

Sheldan was also present at the autopsy a few days later, he told the court.


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