FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The trial for Cody McDonell continued in a Fort St. John courtroom on Monday.
McDonell was present in court wearing a blue dress shirt and sat quietly as the prosecution brought forward three witnesses to the stand. He has plead not guilty to a manslaughter charge laid against him in connection with 29-year-old Travis Waite’s death in May of 2015.
The first witness called was forensic pathologist Dr. Matthew Orde. Orde is a Forensic Pathologist and Discipline Lead for Autopsy Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital and was the one who examined Travis Waite after his death on May 30 of 2015. The alleged incident in question happened on May 18, 2015.
During his time as a forensic pathologist, Orde has performed 3,600 autopsies.
Orde performed Waite’s autopsy on June 4, 2015 at Vancouver General Hospital. Waite had been transferred to Vancouver after originally being rushed to hospital in Fort St. John.
He listed Waite’s death as a result of ‘blunt force head injury’. The most significant injury contributing to death was a blow to the back of the head, according to Orde.
Orde noted that results from the hospital in Fort St. John found that examination and investigations showed signs of severe brain injuries. They particularly noticed fracturing of the skull, bleeding around the brain, bruising within the brain, secondary brain swelling and a fractured nasal bone. Doctors in Fort St. John also noticed that Waite’s teeth were loose and one ended up being removed. Waite ended up undergoing numerous neurosurgeries and there was no improvement to his condition. He eventually passed away on May 30, 2015.
Next to be called to the witness stand was Gordon Leer. Leer was a relative of Waite’s and said the two were close when they were younger. The alleged incident took place at his residence on the night of May 18, 2015 where a group of people gathered for a BBQ.
Leer testified that the group had been drinking and experimenting with drugs that afternoon/evening. They were outside on the back deck when things between McDonell and Waite appeared to be getting heated. Leer said that he then asked Waite to leave and Waite did so without putting up a fight. He stated that McDonnell went to lock the door behind Waite. McDonell had been living at the residence with his girlfriend, Leer said.
Leer described the next thing he heard as a ‘bang’ and started walking towards the front door of the house where he thought the noise came from. Before he made it down the stairs, he said he could hear McDonell calling for him to come and help. When Leer saw Waite on the ground, unconscious, he said he helped McDonell carry Waite upstairs onto a couch, unsure of what had happened.
Another friend that was in attendance said that his girlfriend, who was a nurse, was outside in a car and went to get her to assess Waite. Upon seeing blood coming from Waite’s ears and nose, she recommended that they call the ambulance and get Waite to a hospital.
Leer then stated that after Waite was taken away by ambulance, McDonell was visibly upset. He was allegedly swearing and punching walls. He then said police arrived at the home around midnight that night and arrested McDonell along with blocking off the residence. Leer went to stay with Quinton Cowan, who had been at the BBQ earlier doing the cooking.
Cowan was also called to the stand today. He knew Gordon from before but had not met Waite until the May 18 BBQ. He also testified that he had known Cody McDonell for around two years.
He said that he didn’t see any of the heated moments between McDonell and Waite before Waite was asked to leave as he was focused on his cooking. He said that Waite had left the BBQ around 3 or 3.5 hours from the time he arrived. He testified that he didn’t hear a ‘bang’ that Leer said he had heard. The only thing he said he heard was the door open and close twice when Waite and then McDonell went outside.
Cowan said that he went home at around 8:00 p.m. that evening and then Leer showed up at his motor home to stay for the night while police investigated. Cowan then stated that he went to the police station the next day and gave a witness statement to police.
Witness questioning and cross examination is scheduled to continue tomorrow starting at 9:30 a.m.
The trial was scheduled for the 20, 21 and 22 of March.