MURDER TRIAL OPENS SEPT. 8
Black's Harbor, July 4
- Sergt. Tom Roland Hutchings, 21-year old armourer in the Royal Air Force,
stationed at Pennfield, late Friday afternoon was committed to stand trial at
the next court having criminal jurisdiction in the County of Charlotte for the
murder of Bernice Connors. The next sitting of the Charlotte Circuit Court is
scheduled to open at St. Andrews on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Accused heard 36 prosecution witnesses testify against him, asked not a single question and informed Magistrate E.A. Nason prior to being committed to jail to await trial, that he had nothing to say and did not wish to call any witnesses in his own behalf.
Friday afternoon Dr. John M. Roussel, medico-legal expert, and assistant to Dr. R. Fontaine, in the Province of Quebec medico-legal laboratory, testified that he had discovered a number of human blood stains on the R.A.F. uniform handed to him by Detective Staff Sergeant F.W. Davis of the R.C.M.P. and Sergeant Davis told of securing the uniform from Hutchings at the Pennfield air station.
During the two day preliminary hearing, Hutchings was not represented by counsel, while H.M. Groom, clerk of the peace for Charlotte County conducted the prosecution and had associated with him E.B. McLatchey, of the attorney-general's department. Flt.-Lieut. Elvanson, of the R.A.F. attended court proceedings and took a watching brief for the Air Force.
Friday afternoon the
first witness was R.C.M.P. Constable William Charley, who told of his
investigation concerning measurements and positions where he had found certain
objects. He said he had put stakes into the ground at certain spots where
objects were found, and made a notation on each of what had been found in that approximate
The second witness of the afternoon was Detective Staff Sergeant F.W. Davis of the R.C.M.P. He told of coming to Black's Harbor in the early morning of June 8 arriving here at 12:15 a.m. He told of his investigation at the spot where the body of the girl was found and said that at 9 o'clock that morning, June 8, he interviewed the accused, Sgt., Tom Roland Hutchings, at the R.A.F. station at Pennfield in the presence of Wing Commander Crocker, Squadron Leader Musgrave, Corporal Tudor and Constable Evans.
"I gave the accused the customary warning. I told him he did not have to answer any questions. He said he clearly understood the warning and he gave me a short resume of what he had done on the night of Friday, June 5.
I asked him for the uniform he wore on Friday night. He was wearing it at the time, and took it off and gave it to me. I also took several other articles of clothing from his room. He was wearing glasses when I interviewed at Pennfield," said the witness.
He said he took from the room of the accused, and with the consent of the accused, two pairs of socks, two handkerchiefs, two collars, a tie, a suit of underwear and a pair of shoes. These were later turned over to R.C.M.P. Corporal Prime.
"On the morning of June 10, while looking around the Community Hall here, I discovered a bluish handkerchief near the kitchen door. The handkerchief was stained. I kept this in my possession and turned it over to Dr. J.M. Roussel in Montreal on the morning of June 25.
I interviewed the accused in the jail at St. Andrews on June 13, and asked him to give me a ring he had on his finger, and he gave me the ring," continued the witness.
The tunic, trousers and belt taken from the accused at Pennfield were produced at this point, and offered and received in evidence as well as a pair of shoes, a handkerchief found by the witness outside the Community Hall and several other articles taken from the room of Hutchings at the air station.
Detective Sergeant Davis said he located a rock, stained with blood on the highway near the spot where the body of Miss Connors was discovered. He found the rock on June 10, and this too was handed over to Dr. Rousell, and identified by the witness in court and submitted in evidence.
The article of clothing taken from the body of Miss Connors were identified by the witness, and likewise offered in evidence. He said he had instructed G. Percy Rigby, St. Stephen, to draw a plan of the area in which the body of Miss Connors was found.
John M. Roussel was the third witness of the afternoon. He said he had studied
medico-legal work in Paris and since 1932 had been an associated with Dr. R.
Fontaine in Montreal as assistant. He told of Detective Staff Sergeant Davis
leaving a number of articles with him and Dr. Fontaine on the morning of June
25, including a complete airman's uniform - tunic, trousers and belt.
The witness identified the uniform in court as the one handed to him, and said he had made an examination of the clothing and found a number of blood stains on the tunic and trousers.
"I would say the stains were human blood stains," said the witness, and then went into details as to the different places such stains had been found. He said there was a single dark stain on the belt, and was of the opinion it too was a blood stain, but could not say that it was human blood stain.
Dr. Roussel said he was unable to group the blood from the stains. He attributed this to the fact that stains that had been on cloth for some time or on cloth which had been submitted to heat lose their properties, therefore making it impossible to group the blood.
witness said he has not completed his examination of the various articles as of
yet other than ascertaining that the blood stains on the skirt and blouse were
SOURCE: The Saint Croix Courier (St. Stephen, NB) - July 9, 1942.