Forensics officer testifies at trial

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Cornwall Standard Freeholder

13 May 2010

Posted By DAVID NESSETH

CORNWALL -A forensic ID officer with the city police testified Wednesday that blankets were placed over the victims of a 2005 double murder to avoid a shock to hot-air balloon passengers enjoying the annual Lift-Off festival.

Cousins Peter Benedict, 34, and Jade Benedict, 27, both of Cornwall Island, were fatally shot on July 16, 2005, in a Tenth Street auto repair parking lot.

The Crown alleges their murders were the result of a “drug money ripoff scheme”.

“The wind direction indicated we were directly under the flight path,” Const. Pierre Sauve testified , referring to the balloon festival.

Jason Maestrello of Sudbury is in the first week of his trial on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder related to local resident Andy Paul, described by the Crown as a drug middleman who survived a gunshot to his head later that morning in St. Andrews West.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” assistant Crown attorney Robert Morrison told jurors during his opening address.

Sauve told Morrison that the Benedicts were found that morning face up on the ground next to their blue pick up truck, which was parked at the auto repair compound.

The Benedicts each had multiple gunshot wounds, Sauve said. One of the bullets, he noted, penetrated through a large bundle of U.S. cash in the pocket of Jade Benedict.

The damaged cash was shown to the jury.

The Crown said it believes three guns were used, a shotgun and two different models of .38-calibre handguns, which were later recovered in a local river.

Also found in Jade’s pocket, Sauve said, was a gum wrapper with a phone number written on it.

A cell phone was found in the pocket of Peter Benedict.

Cornwall Community Police Service officers first arrived on the scene that morning at 8:28 a.m.; Morrison estimates the murders occurred just after 3 a.m.

The court heard that the first officer to arrive at the scene was city police Const. John Graham. He said he noticed the lock cut at the gate of the auto repair compound, and a smashed front passenger window in the blue pick up truck next to the victims.

At the scene, police also found shot gun casings, as well as what they believe to be marked cardboard boxes typically used for cigarette smuggling. The boxes were located in a garbage dumpster.

Maestrello’s defence team includes Ottawa lawyer Rosalind Conway.

The trial, expected to last six weeks, resumes Thursday.

Article ID# 2576437

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