UPDATED: Nova Scotia murder trial begins today in Pictou

Christopher Falconer, 31, accused of killing Amber Kirwin, 19, in fall of 2011

TC Media comments@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 6, 2014

Amber Kirwan

PICTOU — Jury selection has wrapped up at the deCoste Centre in Pictou for the first degree murder trial of Christopher Alexander Falconer.

Falconer has entered a not guilty plea.

Four hundred jurors were summoned to the centre that is being used as a makeshift courtroom because of the large number of people summoned.

Supreme Court Justice Nick Scaravelli said 13 jurors will be selected to sit on the month long trial that will take place in Pictou.

Crown Attorney Bill Gorman read out a names of his witness list that included the victim's parents, Donald and Marjorie Kirwan, was well as her boyfriend Mason Campbell.

"It is important for people to hear from Marjorie and Donald Kirwan because Amber Kirwan isn't here to speak for herself," Gorman said.

Forty-two witnesses have been subpoenaed to testify in the trial. 

Defence Attorney Mike Taylor said he considered requesting a change of venue for the trial, but knew it would not be successful.


Kirwan was reported missing on Oct. 9, 2011 after leaving a downtown New Glasgow pool hall to meet her boyfriend Mason Campbell in the parking lot of a nearby convenience store the night before.  

Video surveillance released by the police from outside the pool hall show Kirwan walking in the direction of Big Al’s Convenience Store, but he told the media the next day that she never showed up. 

An extensive missing persons case involving local police, search and rescue and many other volunteers was held throughout the county for weeks for Kirwan who was quickly dubbed by the public as “Pictou County’s Angel.”

Extensive searches took place in Pictou Landing and Heathbell Road while volunteer centres were opened in New Glasgow so thousands of posters and ribbons could be distributed in hopes of finding young woman.

Kirwan’s body was discovered in a wooded area off Heathbell Road in Pictou on Nov. 6, 2011.  Falconer was charged in May in relation to her death and a preliminary hearing was held in February 2013 during which time a trial date was set for today. 

The entire month of January has been set aside for the trial in Pictou Supreme Court. Bill Gorman and Patrick Young are the Crown attorney’s for the case while Mike Taylor of Halifax is Falconer’s lawyer. Justice Nick Scaravelli will preside over the trial that will include 12 jury members.

Timeline of events in Kirwan case 

The New Glasgow News has compiled the following list of events surrounding the Amber Kirwan murder case

Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011

• 1:30 a.m. - Amber calls her boyfriend, Mason Campbell, to meet her at Big Al's using a phone borrowed from a friend. She tells her friends she's OK to walk from Dooly's to the convenience store. She never reaches her destination.

• 1:40 a.m. - Campbell arrives at Big Al's; he says it took about eight minutes for him to get there. Amber isn't there; he calls the phone she used to call him to see if she's still there. He has no luck finding her.

• Morning - Campbell contacts Amber's friends to see if they know where Amber might be. No one has seen her.

• 5 p.m. - Family members go to New Glasgow Police to report Amber missing. A Facebook group is started to raise awareness.

Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

• 7 a.m. - New Glasgow Police send a notice to media that they are searching for a missing person. Ground Search and Rescue is called in to search the area. Friends begin searching the area themselves and hanging missing posters in the area.

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011

• 9 a.m. - Police begin searching door-to-door, bus shelters, taxis, buses and neighbourhood in downtown New Glasgow.

• 2 p.m. - Police search vacant buildings with the help of a police dog along the outskirts of New Glasgow and in Trenton.

• 7 p.m. - County residents begin a campaign to leave porch lights on to guide Amber home.

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011

• Noon - Friends begin collecting donations for the Kirwan family and Campbell.

• 3 p.m. - Police confirm they have collected numerous articles of clothing during the search, which will be sent for forensic testing to see if they belonged to Amber.

Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011

• 11 a.m. - Friends begin making and selling green ribbons to raise awareness and donations. Billboards with missing posters are erected in various parts of the county. Posters are handed out at local businesses to motorists and pedestrians.

• 2:45 p.m. - New Glasgow Police ask RCMP Major Crime Unit for assistance in the investigation.

Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

• Police search areas in Heathbell and Big Gut Bridge in Pictou Landing.

Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011

• Police finish search in Heathbell but continue to search waters at Big Gut Bridge for a few days.

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

• Amber's mother Marjorie with her husband by her side makes a public plea for the safe return of their daughter. She said Amber was "sweet and innocent."

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011

• Police close off Heathbell road and begin another search.

Remains are found in a wooded area on the farm property.

Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011

• 11:30 p.m. - Police confirm that the remains found were those of Amber Kirwan.

• 5:40 p.m. - Kirwan's family releases statement expressing grief.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

• Chris Falconer is arrested and charged with Kirwan's kidnapping and murder

Monday Feb. 11, 2013

Falconer's preliminary hearing begins.

Jan. 6, 2014

Falconer will go to trial on charges of kidnapping and first deg