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Officer describes retrieving knife from roadside brook in Brigus

Accused murderer Allan Potter arrives in the courtroom for Day 4 of his trial Monday in St. John’s.
Accused murderer Allan Potter arrives in the courtroom for Day 4 of his trial Monday in St. John’s. - Tara Bradbury

Jury also hears testimony from three men who were socializing with Dale Porter on the night of his alleged murder

Photos entered as evidence in the murder trial of Allan Potter Monday showed a folded knife, decorated with a blue gem and an image of an eagle, submerged in the shallow water of a roadside brook.

The brook was in Brigus, about two kilometres or so from the Vikings Motorcycle Club clubhouse in Cupids, the court heard.

The photos were taken by an RCMP investigator who seized the knife, though he was allegedly not the first to find it.

A member of the public had reportedly located the knife and had contacted police to turn it in, but was told to put it back in the water. RCMP Cpl. Jason Butler then photographed the scene and donned latex gloves before taking the knife from the brook again, placing it in a sealed exhibit bag, and handing it over to a forensic identification officer for testing.

Butler was the 17th witness to testify for the Crown at Potter's trial, and told the court under cross-examination he had only learned the knife had been taken out of the water and later replaced by the civilian after he had processed it as potential evidence. He acknowledged, when asked by defence lawyer Jon Noonan, that it could have been contaminated as a result.

No fingerprints were located on the knife, and, when it was sent to the RCMP's national crime lab in Ottawa for further testing, which found no DNA, either.

Potter, 55, has been charged with the stabbing death of 39-year-old Dale Porter - a fisherman, trucker and father of two - in 2014. Porter was found by friends at the end of his North River driveway in the early morning hours of June 29, with multiple stab wounds on his neck, arms, hands, back and chest. He died shortly after arriving by ambulance at Carbonear hospital.

A knife was found submerged in about six inches of water in a roadside brook in Brigus and seized by police as part of the investigation into the murder of Dale Porter of North River in 2014.
A knife was found submerged in about six inches of water in a roadside brook in Brigus and seized by police as part of the investigation into the murder of Dale Porter of North River in 2014.

Potter is reportedly a member of the Vikings, while Porter is said to have had no connection with the motorcycle club.

Three men who had been with Porter the night he was killed also testified Monday. Their names are banned from publication by an order of Justice Garrett Handrigan.

All three men, who are in their mid-20s, appeared nervous and flustered as they took the stand, and neither of them were particularly verbose, answering questions from the Crown and defence lawyers in few words.

All three said they had been at Porter's house earlier in the evening, drinking and socializing as part of a group before deciding to go to the Coach House bar in Bay Roberts. Details after that point were hazy.

The first man said he didn't know who he was with, what time they had gone to the bar, how much he drank, how long they had stayed there, or whether or not he saw anyone doing marijuana or cocaine on the night in question. He said he never saw Porter talking to anyone in the bar other than those with whom he had arrived, and didn't see who was with him when he left.

The second man was able to recall details from earlier in the night, but not much from the bar, saying he had consumed about three dozen beer and a number of shots over the course of the evening. He hadn't seen anyone doing any drugs, he said.

"I know I said in my statement (to police) I saw Dale get into a taxi, but I can't picture it now. I'm trying," he told prosecutor Erin Matthews, when she asked if he had seen Porter leave the bar. "I wish I wasn't drinking that night, to be honest."

"Do you recall him speaking to anyone at the bar, outside your immediate group of friends?" Matthews asked.

"I know in my statement I said a bigger fella with long hair, trimmed on the sides, and a shorter fella, but I can't recall now," the man replied. "I don't want to lie or for anyone to think anything of it. I'm trying to think back, I just can't recall."

In a quiet voice, the third man told the court the group had been drinking around Porter's kitchen table before heading to the bar for an hour or two. He said he and Porter had smoked marijuana. No one had done any other drugs, he said, adding, "But I know it was there."

"What was there?" defence lawyer Randy Piercey asked the man upon cross-examination.

"Cocaine," he replied. "I seen it, it was in a little baggie."

The man said he had been the last to see Porter before he left the bar, and Porter had gotten into a cab with a woman and two men.

This knife, located submerged in a roadside brook in Brigus in the days after Dale Porter was killed, was presented as evidence in the murder trial of Allan Potter.

This knife, located submerged in a roadside brook in Brigus in the days after Dale Porter was killed, was presented as evidence in the murder trial of Allan Potter.

All three of Porter's friends said they had gotten into another cab together, along with others from their group, with the goal of dropping a couple of people home and then meeting Porter back at his house.

When they arrived, they said, they noticed Porter's sneaker at the end of his driveway before finding him lying on the ground, severely wounded and bleeding. While one of their friends attempted to put pressure on a wound on Porter's neck, they called for police and an ambulance.

"He was tucked under the flower bed, face first," the third man testified. "We rolled him over once and checked his breathing. He was slightly breathing, but we couldn't get nothing out of him."

Potter was arrested and questioned four days after Porter's death. RCMP Sgt. Steven Burke told the court police had received a report that Potter had been "acting irrationally and unpredictably," so they tracked him down and called him around 4 a.m., asking him to come to the Harbour Grace detachment. He did, and police told him he was being arrested for murder.

A grey hoodie Potter was wearing when he arrived was seized and forensically tested. It was found to contain multiple spots of Porter's blood.

"The clothes he was wearing were similar to what he had been wearing the night (Porter was killed), and if we released that, we could have been releasing potential evidence," Burke said. "We weren't prepared to release the clothing."

"If I suggested to you that the real reason you arrested him that day was to get your hands on his clothes, would you agree?" Piercey asked Burke.

"I would not," Burke replied.

Piercey asked Burke why police didn't examine Potter for injuries, saying he had wounds to his shoulder and wrist at that time.

"You didn't see that?" Piercey asked.

"They weren't obvious," Burke responded.

Police released Potter without charging him at that point, due to insufficient evidence, Burke said.

It was two years later - after an extensive police investigation using undercover officers and informants in this province and Ontario - that Potter was charged with murder in connection with Porter's death.

His trial continues Tuesday.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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