The jury at a Halifax murder trial spent Friday afternoon listening to recordings of phone calls Calvin Maynard Sparks placed from jail after his arrest in the killing of Nadia Gonzales.
Gonzales, 35, was stabbed to death at an apartment building in Dartmouth on the night of June 16, 2017.
Sparks, 26, of Dartmouth and Samanda Rose Ritch, 22, of Halifax are on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on charges of first-degree murder and attempting to murder John Patterson, who was with Gonzales when they were attacked at 33 Hastings Dr.
The Crown wants the jury to hear 19 calls Sparks made from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth over a two-week period beginning June 21, 2017.
The first 10 calls were played in court Friday.
In one of the calls, Sparks asks a man whose cellphone he allegedly had been using around the time of the killing to break the phone’s SIM card, cancel the service and get a new number.
In other calls, Sparks asks his father to find a car that he had parked behind an apartment building near a public housing development in west-end Halifax.
The jury also heard conversations in which Sparks speaks about being concerned about what Ritch is saying.
He tells a female cousin that he wants $50 put into Ritch’s canteen account at the jail but nothing put in her phone account, “because I know how her lips are right now.”
A few days later, he tells the cousin: “The only thing I gotta worry about is her f-----g talking too much. … I gotta get a message to her to keep her mouth shut.
“If I go on the stand and I tell our stories, we’re going to be set free because we’re both innocent.”
Sparks had bandages on his hands when he was arrested the day after the killing. In some of the calls, he discusses the injuries to his hands.
“My hands are all f----d up,” he says to a woman.
“What happened?” she says.
“The murder thing happened,” Sparks says. “It’s involved in the case that I can’t talk about.”
Throughout the calls, Sparks’ father and cousin express their belief in his innocence.
“I know my son is not a murderer,” his father says. “Don’t worry. We’ll get through this together.”
But they also remind Sparks on several occasions that anything he says on the phone or to other people at the jail could be used against him.
“Please, please, please, you’ve got to watch what you say,” his father tells him.
“You know they’re going to have snitches in there.”
“Make sure you tell Samanda’s father the same thing,” Sparks responds.
Sparks tries to reassure his father, saying, “I didn’t say nothing at the police station so I’m not saying nothing here. I’m the only person that didn’t talk about the thing.”
His cousin tells him not to explain the truth to anybody but his lawyer.
“I completely believe in you and completely trust in you, but be mindful of stuff,” she says. “Be careful of what you say.”
The remainder of the calls will be played Monday when Andrew Miller, a captain at the Dartmouth jail, returns to the stand.
The trial began Nov. 4 and was scheduled to sit for 19 days, until Nov. 29. But Justice Christa Brothers informed jurors Friday that their services will be needed for an additional week.
“In life, things do happen, and they have happened, and we do not believe we will be in a position where you will be getting closings from counsel or final charges the end of that week, Nov. 29,” Brothers said. “Our best estimate now is that we’re into the following week … for several days potentially.
“I want you to plan to be here until the end of that week. Hopefully, the case will be in your hands, so to speak, before the end of that week, but I want you all to be able to plan that with your employers, your family, your friends.”
The announcement did not appear to surprise the jurors.
It took almost three days just to complete jury selection, and two key Crown witnesses – crack cocaine addicts Patterson and Wayne (Batman) Bruce – were on the stand for five and three days, respectively.
Patterson, 72, testified that he and Gonzales went to the Hastings Drive building to deliver crack to Bruce, who lived in apartment 16 on the fourth floor.
Sparks and Ritch allegedly came out of Bruce’s apartment with knives and attacked Gonzales and Patterson in the hallway.
Patterson, who suffered six stab wounds, got away and collapsed on the front lawn of an elementary school across the street.
The body of Gonzales, a mother of two from Hammonds Plains, was found in a hockey bag on a stairwell landing between the third and fourth floors.
Bruce, 63, finished testifying Friday morning. He admitted during cross-examination Thursday that he had lied to the jury at times after earlier agreeing that he didn’t tell the truth in three statements he gave police in 2017.
Bruce was questioned the night of the killing but was released without being charged. He was arrested again that August and charged with first-degree murder. He spent about eight months in custody before the charge was stayed by the Crown and later dropped.