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Medical examiner describes injuries to woman killed in 2017 Dartmouth stabbing

Nadia Gonzales who was killed in Dartmouth on Saturday June 17, 2017.
Nadia Gonzales was killed in Dartmouth on the evening of June 16, 2017. - Contributed

Nadia Gonzales bled to death after being stabbed between 30 and 40 times, the jury at a Halifax murder trial heard Monday.

Dr. Matthew Bowes, the province’s chief medical examiner, testified in Nova Scotia Supreme Court at the trial of two people charged with first-degree murder in the June 16, 2017, killing of Gonzales at an apartment building in Dartmouth.

Bowes said Gonzales, a 35-year-old mother of two from Hammonds Plains, suffered at least a dozen stab wounds to her neck area.

The most severe wounds to her neck, Bowes said, were near her left ear, damaging a carotid artery and jugular vein and resulting in significant blood loss.

The forensic pathologist said Gonzales also had clusters of sharp-force injuries on her upper and lower back and wounds to her scalp, right flank, right thigh, one of her arms and her hands.

The index finger on Gonzales’ left hand was almost amputated in the attack, Bowes said.

He said the wounds to her hands are “good evidence” that Gonzales tried to defend herself.

Calvin Maynard Sparks, 26, of Dartmouth and Samanda Rose Ritch, 22, of Halifax are also charged with attempting to murder John Patterson, who went to an apartment building at 33 Hastings Dr. with Gonzales to deliver crack cocaine to a tenant they knew.

Gonzales and Patterson were attacked in the hallway on the building’s fourth floor. Gonzales’ body was found in a hockey bag on a landing in a stairwell. 

Bowes told the jury that he viewed Gonzales’ body at the apartment building the next morning and performed an autopsy that afternoon. He said the body was partially in the hockey bag when he began his examination.

The apartment where Nadia Gonzales was killed. - Tim Krochak
Nadia Gonzales was stabbed to death at this apartment building on Hastings Drive in Dartmouth. - Tim Krochak

He said two or three of Gonzales’ wounds appear to have been inflicted post-mortem or when she was almost dead and had low blood pressure.

He said he was unable to offer “any good, really strong opinion” on how many knives were used in the attack.

“It’s not impossible that one weapon created them all," he said of the wounds, "which I recognize is not a very useful thing for the case, but that is what the evidence is.

“When I observe these injuries, I do not see distinctive features which would make me think of more than one (weapon).”

Bowes also said he cannot comment on how many people might have been involved in the slaying.

On cross-examination by Peter Planetta, Ritch’s lawyer, the doctor said a toxicology report revealed Gonzales had amphetamines and cocaine in her system.

“He was going to poke her with a knife”

Earlier Monday, defence lawyers finished questioning Joseph Fowler, who testified last week that he met Gonzales and Sparks a few weeks before the killing and would drive her around the Halifax area to deliver drugs. 

Fowler said Sparks wanted him to stab Gonzales while he was in the car with her, put the seat back and Sparks would “deal with the rest.” 

Fowler claimed Sparks had obtained Gonzales’ cellphone before her death and had seen messages between her and police.
“He was pissed off,” said Fowler, who said he also saw the messages.

He said Sparks wanted to “take out” Gonzales because he was “jealous of her and whatever she was doing.”

“He was going to poke her with a knife,” he said of Sparks’ alleged plan, adding Sparks carried a knife with an orange handle and black blade in his pocket.
Fowler called the plan “sloppy,” but added he “knew it was going to happen.”

“He wanted to kill her. I don’t think he cared how."

On Monday, Malcolm Jeffcock, who represents Sparks, got Fowler to admit that there was not a single mention of harming Gonzales in more than 450 text messages he exchanged with Sparks the week before the killing.

“There was no plan, was there?” Jeffcock asked.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Fowler replied. “It wasn’t in the text messages.

“There was a plan, yeah. In my mind, there was a plan.”

Trial to continue into next week

This knife was in a hockey bag containing the body of Nadia Gonzales, found on a landing in a back stairwell at 33 Hastings Dr. in Dartmouth on the night of June 16, 2017. The piece of blade was found on the fourth floor of the building, near the door to the stairwell. - Ryan Taplin
This knife was in a hockey bag containing the body of Nadia Gonzales, found on a landing in a back stairwell at 33 Hastings Dr. in Dartmouth on the night of June 16, 2017. The piece of blade was found on the fourth floor of the building, near the door to the stairwell. - Ryan Taplin

On Monday, the jury also heard from a young man who bought cocaine from Gonzales in the parking lot of a Halifax gas station on the evening she was stabbed.

The man said he and Sparks were classmates in the automotive service and repair program at the Nova Scotia Community College in 2016-2017 and he sometimes bought cocaine from Sparks.

He confirmed that he got a text from Gonzales on the afternoon of June 16, 2017, that said Sparks was plotting against her because he couldn’t take her business over.

“I hope he’s not trying to use you to set me up,” Gonzales said in a text.

A Halifax Regional Police forensic identification officer also testified Monday.

The trial began Nov. 4 and was originally scheduled to wrap up last week, but Justice Christa Brothers informed jurors Monday the hearing will sit into next week. The jury has agreed to sit for extended hours.

The judge said the prosecution believes it can close its case this Thursday. The defendants will then announce whether they plan to call any evidence.

Brothers reminded the jury that the accused are under no obligation to call evidence and that the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt never shifts from the Crown.

If the defence does not call evidence, the judge said it is possible that the jury could hear closing arguments from lawyers next Monday, followed by her final instructions.


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