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James Glasco's lawyer didn't beat around the bush when she questioned him on the witness stand at his own trial Tuesday afternoon.
"Bottom line. Video, robbery, baseball bat. Was that you?" Michelle Elliott asked the 45-year-old.
Glasco was equally as direct in his reply.
"No," he said.
Elliott pointed to Glasco's lengthy criminal record, noting he had a prior conviction for robbery. She asked him why he had pleaded guilty in that case.
"Because I did it," Glasco said with half a shrug, adding he would have done the same with his current charges if he wasn't innocent.
Glasco and Amanda Maher, 34, stand charged in connection with an armed robbery at the Irving service station on Freshwater Road in St. John's last December, and have both pleaded not guilty. Their trial wrapped up in provincial court Tuesday afternoon, with Glasco taking the stand as the last witness.
Surveillance video from the gas station played during the trial showed what appeared to be someone hiding around the corner of the building as a woman in glasses, a hat and a winter coat enters the store around 4:30 a.m. and purchases a can of Pepsi and some chocolate Icy Squares. The woman chatted politely with the clerk, asking for a straw and following his directions to the other side of the store to get one, before wishing him a good evening and leaving.
The video showed the woman appearing to hold the door open as she left for a man who entered while wearing a bandanna over the bottom part of his face and brandishing a baseball bat. He approached the counter, used the bat to smash the glass of the lottery ticket display, then yelled at the cashier to put money into a book bag he thrust at him.
"Cash, cash, cash, now!" the robber screamed. "All your cash! Cigarettes, come on!"
The robber asked for more cigarettes and directed the clerk to a certain kind. He then ran from the store in the same direction the woman had been walking minutes earlier.
RNC Const. Angela Davison, lead investigator in the case, circulated photos of the suspects taken from the video to other members of the police force, asking for help identifying them. At least two officers identified Maher. Glasco's name first surfaced because of his connection to Maher, and based on his similarities to the male suspect in the video.
Davison and a colleague visited Maher at home, where she lived with her father. Maher confirmed she had been at the Irving early that morning and had bought a Pepsi for her dad, who was ill. She didn't know Glasco, she told police.
Davison said she asked Maher who owned a pair of men's sneakers in the porch, and Maher told her they were her cousin's. When the officers spoke privately with Maher's father, they found his answers to be inconsistent with hers, and, after leaving briefly to review the other evidence they had collected, decided to arrest her.
Davison found Glasco sitting on the bed in a bedroom inside the home.
Glasco testified he had told Maher to tell police he was not in the home, since he had been caught shoplifting from a nearby drug store the day before the robbery — having been released from custody the day prior to that with Highway Traffic Act charges — and had a feeling he was going to be arrested.
He told the court he and Maher had spent the night of the robbery together at her home, drinking and doing cocaine while her father, who was ill, slept.
He fell asleep around 2:30 a.m., he testified. He said he believed Maher had gone to the store to buy a Pepsi and chocolate for her father, who needed food to take with his medication in the morning.
"It doesn't seem strange to me at all," Glasco said of Maher leaving alone to go to the store at 4:30 a.m. "The lifestyle we lead, she's often leaving at three, four in the morning to meet dealers."
In her closing submissions, Elliott focused on what she said was Davison's "tunnel vision" when it came to believing their clients were responsible for the armed robbery.
"Once the ID was made of Amanda Maher, (Davison) got it in her head that they were a Bonnie and Clyde-type of duo, and that the other person had to be James Glasco," Elliott said.
Elliott noted none of the witnesses who testified had identified Glasco as the male robber, and questioned the police investigator's decision not to present the store clerk with a photo lineup of suspects, or to call in the RNC's K9 unit to track footprints in the snow outside the store, or to call members of the forensic identification unit to process the scene.
Elliott stressed that Glasco hadn't left Maher's home between visits from police on the day the couple was arrested.
"I would submit that an honest reaction for someone who had committed an armed robbery would be to bolt, but he didn't," Elliott said. "He was there very nonchalantly, sitting on the bed.
"I think it would be very dangerous, your honour, to convict Mr. Glasco based on an officer's tunnel vision."
"I think it would be very dangerous, your honour, to convict Mr. Glasco based on an officer's tunnel vision." — Defence lawyer Michelle Elliott
Ben Curties, representing Maher, said the evidence against his client was circumstantial only, since she had not been in the store at the time of the robbery. Her behaviour in the video — drumming her fingers on the counter and repeatedly looking out the window — weren't necessarily indicators of nervousness, he said, despite what investigators believed.
"I don't know how her looking out the window would indicate her guilt," Curties said.
He said the same for Maher holding the door for the robber as she left, explaining she didn't have much choice.
"I would suggest for someone who's on drugs, there's no right way to react if someone is running at them with a baseball bat," Curties said.
“The robber could have been hiding around the corner, waiting for someone to exit the store so he could rush in without having to ring the doorbell," Curties said.
"I think when you put it all together, there are other reasons and plausible explanations for her behaviour apart from her being involved in an armed robbery. Unfortunately, the officer was not willing to consider them."
In her closing remarks, prosecutor Jennifer Colford said it would be "awfully chancy" for the robber to wait at the side of the store at 4:30 in the morning for a customer to come out and give him the opportunity to run in. She questioned Maher's decision to go for a Pepsi and chocolate for her father at that time of day, after a night of allegedly drinking and doing drugs, and not before.
"...if you look at the totality of the evidence, there is enough to convict." — Crown prosecutor Jennifer Colford
Colford also stressed Maher had not called police after witnessing the masked man with the baseball bat rush into the store, and had taken her time walking away.
Maher didn't have to follow Glasco's advice to tell police he wasn't in her home when they came knocking, Colford said, noting Glasco has three prior convictions for mischief.
"Lying to police isn't something he has great issue with, and if you believe what he says, he coaxed Ms. Maher to lie to police as well," she told the court. "I think if you look at the totality of the evidence, there is enough to convict."
Judge David Orr will return with his decision April 23.