Double-murder trial hears man spied on cheating wife before her death
Published Thursday, September 24, 2009 6:11PM EDT
NEWMARKET, Ont. - A bizarre story of a wife found with her throat slit in bed, a crumpled photo of her and her lover nearby, and her lover's estranged spouse slain in the garage was laid out for a jury Thursday at the trial of the spurned husband who allegedly killed both women.
Christopher Little, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, was upset over his spouse Julie Crocker's affair and had been spying on her, prosecutors said in opening statements.
Evidence suggests Little had also been tracking the wife of Crocker's lover, the Crown said.
The bodies of Crocker, 33, and Paula Menendez, 34, were found in Crocker and Little's home on Feb. 12, 2007. The couple had been separated for months and were taking turns living at the Markham, Ont., house with their two young daughters.
The Crown said evidence will show Crocker was looking for her own apartment two days before she died.
Court heard that Little and Crocker had been married for 10 years, but she had been having an affair with Rick Ralph, a Toronto radio sports announcer, for several months before her death. Menendez was Ralph's estranged wife.
Little murdered the two women, the Crown alleged, though motives for the killings were not made explicit.
Crocker was found dead on the bed in the master bedroom, her throat slit from her left ear to her right clavicle, Crown attorney Michael Demczur said.
At the foot of the bed was a crumpled photo of Crocker and Ralph kissing in front of a pool bar in St. Lucia, he said. Little's therapist is expected to testify that Little told her the day Crocker left for St. Lucia in December 2006 was "the worst day of his life."
The medical examiner will also tell the jury Crocker had defensive wounds on her hands and a puncture wound near her left cheek, Demczur said.
Menendez was found in the garage, dead as a result of ligature strangulation -- a different cause of death than hanging, Demczur said. There was yellow rope tied around her neck, her feet were bound together and her body had numerous blunt force injuries all over.
Court heard that Little himself called 911 early that morning, saying he had just arrived at the house to find a woman he didn't know hanging in his garage.
However, Demczur said evidence was found on Little's work computer that, days before the killings, searches were done for Menendez's home address, a map to her home and information on her home physiotherapy business.
Police also found two photographs on Little's cellphone of Ralph's key ring, showing a key to Menendez's home. That couple's separation was amicable, Demczur said.
When Menendez failed to show up for work that morning her co-worker Dinah Hampson, the trial's first witness, testified she and a patient went to Menendez's house, where they found the door unlocked and her car in the driveway.
Inside the house Menendez's purse was by the front door and her cellphone was on the kitchen table, Hampson said.
Evidence from cellphone towers and other records show Little's movements the evening of Feb. 11, Demczur said. Little was in Markham then left around 8:45 p.m., travelling to the area of Toronto where he had been staying in an apartment.
Just before 2 a.m. the next morning he is captured on a surveillance camera at a gas station less than eight kilometres from his and Crocker's Markham home getting gas and a car wash, Demczur said.
Cellphone tower records show Little was back in the area of his Toronto apartment at 2:30 a.m. and then travelled back to Markham. He placed the 911 call at 3:23 a.m. and when police arrived he was wearing different clothes from when he was at the gas station, Demczur said.
The jury will also hear evidence that Little used a product called Check Mate to test for the presence of semen on Crocker's clothes, Demczur said. Little tracked down Crocker and Ralph at a hotel room one time using a GPS device he had installed in Crocker's car.
The trial, expected to last for three months, continues Friday and will hear from more than 45 witnesses.