The trial for an Abbotsford man accused of robbing a Penticton pharmacy for narcotics kicked off Monday morning, days before his second-degree murder trial is set to begin in New Westminster.
Shayne Daniel McGenn stands charged of robbery, disguising face with intent to commit offence and using an imitation firearm when committing an indictable offence from a May 22, 2014 incident at the Medicine Shoppe in Penticton. Charges weren’t sworn against McGenn until Nov. 21, 2016, according to court files.
McGenn is scheduled to begin a second-degree murder trial in Abbotsford starting on April 30 over the death of David Delaney in 2016.
The first day of trial in Penticton’s B.C. Supreme Court chambers heard testimony from two employees, both present during the robbery, and two police officers as the Crown’s first witnesses. That included a dog handler and a member of the Penticton RCMP’s General Investigations Section.
The trial heard a man with a backpack had entered the store on May 22, 2014, wearing a black baseball hat with a white skull on it, sunglasses, a black-and-white bandana over his face and a grey sweater.
With a “revolver-type” gun, one victim said the man demanded drugs from the narcotics safe and cash from the register, before making off out the back door.
RCMP dog handler Cpl. Frank Roberts and his dog, Dex, arrived on scene about half an hour after the incident. Dex led Roberts to a hat matching the robber’s description and a grey hoodie before the tracks diminished.
In his cross-examination, defence lawyer Don Skogstad attempted to disparage any connection between descriptions of the robber provided by the victims and McGenn’s appearance.
The victims suggested the robber’s height was between five-foot-seven and five-foot-10. During one victim’s testimony, Skogstad challenged that height estimate in an experiment that drew some incredulous expressions from Justice Alison Beames.
Skogstad first stood beside the victim to compare his height with hers, and then beside McGenn to compare his height with McGenn’s. Skogstad told the victim he was six feet two inches tall, and asked the victim to infer McGenn’s height from the practice.
The victim said she would not try to guess McGenn’s height without a measurement.
He also noted one victim’s initial description was of a man in his early 20s or late teens, based on his clothing.
The second victim to testify had a less precise description of his age, saying he was likely younger than 40. She said that was because he was not greying from what little hair she saw, and he appeared somewhat unsure of himself.
Skogstad asked the first testifying victim if McGenn looked like he might appear to be in his early 20s or late teens at the time of the crime, but Crown lawyer John Swanson stood to object.
“It’s inappropriate to ask the witness to speculate about how the accused might have looked—” Swanson began, before Beames interjected to chide Skogstad. “Or how old he looks today for that matter,” Beames said.
“She’s told us what her impression was and what she based it on at the time, which had nothing to do with how he looked because she couldn’t see him,” Beames said, calling Skogstad’s question “not helpful.”
During police testimony, Skogstad asked if some people might leave stronger tracks than others, but Roberts said it was quite unlikely that Dex locked onto a different person’s tracks.
He also latched onto the size of the hat believed to be used to disguise the robber’s identity.
Skogstad asked Cpl. Chad Parsons to determine its size, who noted it was a snapback hat, which can vary in sizes. The hat was snapped into place at a fairly tight size, which Skogstad suggested would not fit McGenn.
However, rather than get permission to put the hat on McGenn, Beames suggested Skogstad return to court on Tuesday with a string.
The court adjourned for lawyers to try to digitally zoom in on a photo of the hat from the crime scene to determine if it was at the same size setting as it was in court.
“It’s going to be like the O.J. (Simpson) case,” Skogstad said.