When Det.-Sgt. Walter Baumann (Ret.) attended 282 Franklin St. on June 4, 2017 between 3:30 and 4 a.m. and first heard from another officer that a black Chrysler 300 was seen leaving the scene that night, a light switch went off in his memory.
He had seen a vehicle of that same description earlier that evening.
Baumann was one of three OPP officers who testified on Wednesday in the first-degree murder trials of Brian Quesnel and Martin Forget. The two are charged in the death of Orillia man Joseph Simonds.
“When I saw a vehicle by itself at Tim Hortons at 3:30 a.m., I had made a mental note. I recall thinking, that’s odd,” testified Baumann.
Baumann told the jury that at about 3:20 a.m. on June 4 he received an unrelated call of a suspicious vehicle on Rama Road. While driving from the Peter Street OPP detachment to investigate, he passed a Tim Hortons on Atherley Road, and noted a black Chrysler 300 reverse parked in the parking lot.
As his call to Rama Road turned up nothing, he headed back to Atherley Road toward the detachment. When he drove up on the Tim Hortons again, the vehicle was still in the lot and turned its lights on as he drove by.
“It was just a black Chrysler 300, four-door, windows tinted and no one else around,” said Baumann. “Someone once told me if it seems out of place, it’s probably out of place.”
Baumann testified he drove in the vicinity of the vehicle until it reached Forest Avenue and the two vehicles then went their separate ways.
“It isn’t a unique car. Could there have been others in the area?” asked Martin Forget’s defence attorney Alan Brass.
“Yes,” said Baumann.
“Did you check to see how many black Chrysler 300s are registered in the Orillia area?” asked Brass.
“No,” said Baumann.
Baumann also testified to his impressions of the crime scene at 282 Franklin St. upon his arrival. In reference to the three pieces of evidence recovered at the scene – the shotgun shell, wadding and plastic base to the cuff – Baumann said it wasn’t unusual that the three items were located in different places in the basement apartment when they were found and flagged by police, as there were many people who came in and out of the apartment by way of the hallway.
“Could they have been kicked or moved?” asked Brass.
“It’s possible,” said Baumann.
According to some agreed-upon statement of facts read out in court on Wednesday, an empty Monster Energy drink can was recovered from underneath one of the seats of the Chrysler 300 owned by Forget after it was seized by police.
The can was sent for DNA analysis at the Centre for Forensic Science and Brian Quesnel’s DNA was detected on the can. However, it was not determined for how long the can had been in the vehicle.
An agreed upon statement of facts in regards to the post-mortem examination confirmed that Simonds died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Two other police officers involved in the investigation also took the stand on Wednesday.
Det.-Const. Rob Conn testified he arrested Martin Forget at the Alexandria OPP Detachment when Forget attended the station on June 8, 2017.
Det.-Const. Shawn Herrell testified he was tasked with keeping track of Forget’s Chrysler 300 after the vehicle left the area of the station when Forget surrendered to police. Herrell told the jury that on June 8, he followed the vehicle from the detachment to a Dollarama up the road, and seized the vehicle from Natalie Forget.
The vehicle was then towed to an OPP forensic identification bay, sealed and locked in the bay. Once a warrant was granted, Herrell said he broke the seal on the driver’s side door, took a cell phone he observed in the centre console, removed the SIM card, put the phone and SIM card into an evidence bag and then placed the bag back in the centre console.
“Was removing the SIM card to protect the integrity of the data?” asked Brass.
“Yes,” said Herrell.
To read about Day 1 of this trial, including opening arguments and first witnesses, click here.
To read about Day 2, including witness testimony from forensic investigators, click here.