Saint John – The jury in the second degree murder trial of Matthew Linus Tucker, 35, of St. Stephen, heard a summary of the evidence against him at the start of Tuesday’s proceedings.
Tucker has pled not guilty to committing the second degree murder of his mother, Dorothy Hattie Tucker, 53, on or about Nov. 10, 2014 at or near Oak Haven.
Crown prosecutor Paul J.Veniot told the jurors- seven man and five women-they will be the ones at the completion of this trial to decide if Tucker is guilty or not.
“In the context of a criminal trial, and in this trial more particularly, 12 impartial citizens, such as yourselves, have sworn to determine if Mr. Tucker is guilty or not guilty based solely on what will be heard and seen within these four walls and nothing else…
“The importance of people with different backgrounds and different life experiences is immense. You will need to draw on those life experiences in this trial.”
He said Dorothy and Matthew Tucker lived in a home located at 31 McGeachy Lane in Oak Haven. Dorothy was engaged to be married to Mike York and she was working as a traffic control person or “flagger”.
“From all indications she loved her job. Dorothy Tucker was a 53-year-old woman who dedicated her life to her son and her grandchildren. She was very active in her grandchildren’s lives.”
On Nov. 10, 2014, she didn’t show up for work at 7:45 a.m., and Veniot said this was unusual as she was almost always early. She was also supposed to attend her grandchildren’s first hockey game of the year that day, but she didn’t show up.
Although York and others tried to track her down, Veniot said they had no success and, in the hours following his mother’s disappearance, Matthew Tucker advised those who asked him that he didn’t know of her whereabouts.
Veniot said a co-worker of Dorothy’s went to 31 McGeachy Lane to look for her, and she was not there, but three vehicles were parked on the property including the one she usually drove.
With Dorothy still missing, York was the first to make a missing person’s call to the RCMP just before 1 a.m. Nov. 11. Some 20 minutes or so later, said Veniot, RCMP officers arrived at 31 McGeachy Lane where they were greeted by Matthew Tucker.
After being advised by him that he had not seen his mother in two days, the officers looked around the home and property. What they noted, said Veniot, led them to detain Tucker regarding the disappearance of his mother.
He was taken to the RCMP detachment in St. George where he was later that same morning arrested for the murder of his mother. On Nov.11, Tucker provided a statement to the police and Veniot said the jury will have a chance to see an audio-visual recording of that.
After more than 24 hours in custody, and although Dorothy was still missing, Tucker was released while the police investigation continued for several more days with the RCMP following through on information and tips received from many sources.
Tucker was arrested for a second and final time Nov. 20 late in the morning, once again for the murder of his mother.
On that same day, said Veniot, two men were hunting in an area known as St. David Ridge Road when they stumbled upon human remains wrapped in plastic sheeting.
Those remains were taken to Saint John for identification, and an autopsy. They were determined to be the remains of Dorothy Tucker, said Veniot, and an autopsy found the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.
He said many items of interest to the police were seized during the autopsy, as well as from 31 McGeachy Lane and the surrounding property, which were sent to the RCMP lab for analyses.
Veniot said physical evidence in this trial will include a 12 gauge shotgun found in a shed on the property, an empty case for a firearm, both live ammunition and spent shells found at various locations, red stained clothing found in a nearby gravel pit and items seized inside Dorothy Tucker’s bedroom.
He said the jury will hear in detail about the items seized, and will be shown photographs from the autopsy, the recovery of the body, the recovery of the shotgun, items found in the gravel pit area, the interior and exterior of the Tucker home, the three vehicles located in the driveway and aerial views of the Tucker property as well as St. David Ridge Road.
“Some of these photos, ladies and gentlemen, will be graphic and may be difficult to look at.”
During the course of the trial Veniot said the jury will see and hear what police uncovered in their investigation of Dorothy Tucker’s death.
He said the evidence the prosecution will put before them will paint a portrait of circumstances that lead to only one logical inference – that Tucker shot and killed his mother, that he did so unlawfully and that he intended to cause her death.
“What you’ve heard from me so far is a very condensed, somewhat incomplete version of what will be put before you in this trial.”
The first witness was Cpl. Jayson Hanson from the Saint Andrews RCMP detachment who took statements from several of the witnesses who will be appearing at the trial.
He also identified a number of the exhibits which were seized including a 12 gauge shotgun found in one of the outbuildings at 31 McGeachy Lane.
It is estimated the trial, which is being heard before Justice William Grant, will take two weeks to complete. Veniot and Jill Knee are appearing for the Crown while Tucker is being defended by Peter Corey and Brian Ferguson.
Tucker, who last appeared in court Jan. 8, was found fit to stand trial following a 30-day psychiatric assessment which also concluded he was criminally responsible for his actions at the time of the alleged offence.