‘Ottawa’ Ottawa Prom Night killing: Accused Killer Didn’t Have Knife, Witness Says
The defence team for accused prom-night killer Devontay Hackett launched its case on Monday with explosive testimony from a witness who placed the murder weapon in another man’s hand.
Danielle Saunders Gauthier testified that she witnessed the deadly brawl outside Les Suites Hotel on June 7, 2014, and that it was a “dark-skinned guy” who was swinging a knife at Brandon Volpi, a mutual friend of hers.
In examination in chief by Joseph Addelman, the witness said Hackett, 21, was definitely not the one swinging a knife Volpi because “this guy’s skin was a lot darker than Devontay’s.”
The witness told the jury — four women, eight men — that she didn’t stick around the hotel because “I kind of went into a panic and (just wanted to leave.)
Under cross-examination by assistant Crown attorney Michael Boyce, the witness said while she saw another man swinging a knife at Volpi in the deadly seconds-long, brawl, she said she couldn’t actually say if the knife made contact with the 18-year-old grad, who was slashed in the throat and stabbed in the heart on his prom night.
Cellphone video of the brawl is blurry and it’s hard to know who held the knife.
The prosecution theory is that Volpi was knifed by Hackett, who as a fugitive for a month left a trail of evidence, from a discarded shirt, which had his and the victim’s blood on it, to the Michael Kors watch he wore on the night of the killing. Hackett was still wearing the watch when he was arrested in July 2014, and the jury has heard that it still had the victim’s blood on it.
The jury has also seen hours and hours of video — including surveillance footage that literally tracks Hackett’s every step in the minutes after Volpi collapsed.
The police have a pile of evidence — mostly video and DNA — but have yet to find the murder weapon.
Earlier on Monday, Addelman delivered his opening address to the jury, noting the defence had no obligation to call evidence.
“This is not Devontay’s case to prove. But in a case like this … and given the relevance of (Saunders-Gauthier’s) observations, we felt it was incumbent that you hear this testimony and that you have the opportunity to consider it along with all the other evidence in the this case,” Addelman told the jury.
The lawyer then recounted the “unmitigated tragedy” for the Class of 2014, with one grad killed on his prom night and another charged with murder.
“And now you sit in judgment over Devontay’s fate … You have heard the Crown’s case … But you have not heard all the relevant evidence,” Addelman said.
The lawyer told the jury it was time to tell Devontay Hackett’s side of the story.
Hackett has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. His trial continues Tuesday at the Elgin Street courthouse.