EDMONTON — Crown prosecutors presented blood spatter evidence Monday that they believe helps prove filmmaker Mark Twitchell killed a stranger by first cracking his skull with a copper pipe.
Police Const. Fons Chafe said there were well over 200 red blotches and stains on the inside of a garage where Johnny Altinger is believed to have died.
In photos shown in court the spatters resemble red bullet holes raking the wooden door. Some are oval, some are round and others are elliptical crimson comets no bigger than a thumbnail.
Some blood even landed outside the main garage door, said Chafe, which he said suggests it was partially open to the alley about when the attack occurred.
“These are characteristic of impact stains created by an object striking a wet-blood source,” Chafe told jurors at Twitchell’s first-degree murder trial. Twitchell, 31, had pleaded not guilty.
There was more blood on the floor of the garage in streaks and blotches readily visible to the naked eye, Chafe said.
A DNA expert has already confirmed the blood belonged to Altinger, 38, who was last seen on the night of Oct. 10, 2008. He was going to a garage in a middle-class south Edmonton neighbourhood to meet a blind date made on an Internet dating site.
Instead, say prosecutors, he met Twitchell, who had lured Altinger there by posing as his date on the website. They allege Twitchell clobbered Altinger with the pipe, knifed him to death, cut up the body and later dumped it in a sewer.
They say the key evidence is a deleted text document found buried in Twitchell’s laptop. They admit the 42-page work uses pseudonyms, but point out it meshes so perfectly with the physical evidence and other details of Twitchell’s life that it is in effect his diary and a confession to the crime.
The defence is expected to argue it’s a work of fiction and nothing more.
The document, entered as an exhibit last week, details the last few seconds of the life of “Jim” after he enters the garage looking for his date, but instead finds the writer lying in wait for him with the pipe.
“I blasted him so hard blood spattered everywhere,” writes the author.
“He hit the floor but was still conscious.”
The writer said Jim pleaded and bargained for his life but the author was undeterred.
“I wailed on him again.”
Jim would not be subdued and made a dizzy, last-ditch attempt to grab the pipe.
“I wrestled it from him and that was the last straw. I pulled my hunting knife from its sheath and, watching the shock on his face as he saw the blade, I thrust it into his gut. His reaction was pure Hollywood.”
Chafe also testified Altinger’s blood stained the trunk of his Mazda and the trunk of Twitchell’s Pontiac Grand Am.
The pattern of the stain, he said, suggests it didn’t come from impact but from a bloody item being placed against the fabric.
The author of the computer text has described storing Jim’s lacerated body parts in garbage bags in the trunk of the victim’s car until the killer was ready to dispose of them.
He then transferred them to his own car.
“It’s an interesting feeling, driving around town with what used to be a human body bagged up in your trunk,” writes the author.
Court has already heard that Altinger’s blood was also found on a variety of knives, cleavers and saws in Twitchell’s possession as well as on his laptop keyboard.
The writer talks about blood being all over his clothes. Chafe said he found bloodstains in Twitchell’s washing machine.
Twitchell was a fringe filmmaker trying to finance a deal for a feature film. The Crown says he had also embarked on a secret life to become a serial killer to mimic his TV hero Dexter Morgan.
Last week, jurors heard from Gilles Tetreault, who said he was lured to the same garage a week before Altinger disappeared. He was also on an Internet blind date but testified he managed to fend off his masked attacker and flee. He didn’t go to police until after Altinger was dead.
Court has heard that Twitchell had rented the garage and just weeks before Altinger’s disappearance had made a short movie there about a man lured to a remote location on the promise of an Internet date, but instead is attacked, murdered and dismembered.
Police officers have testified they began investigating within days of Altinger’s disappearance when his friends received emails under his name saying he’d run off to Costa Rica with a woman.
Altinger, it turned out, had previously emailed to a friend the directions to the garage he was going to that night. That, court heard, led police to Twitchell.