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Time key in gallery trial

Brent Reaney
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 18/04) - The whereabouts of an accused art gallery robber emerged as the key piece of evidence presented at a two- week trial that wrapped up Tuesday in Supreme Court.

Justice V.A. Schuler reserved decision on charges against Kris McInnes until June 25.

McInnes, a 31-year-old Yellowknife man, is facing three charges, including armed robbery of the Gallery of the Midnight Sun and obstruction of justice.

John and Lisa Seagraves were were robbed of $3,197 by a man wearing a blue snowmobile suit and a balaclava.

Crown prosecutor Noel Sinclair said McInnes was robbing the gallery at gunpoint around 5 p.m., Jan. 16, 2003.

But defence lawyer Hugh Latimer said McInnis was at the Centre Square Mall at 5 p.m, fighting with Wade Sutherland.

The mall security log book shows an entry about a fight between McInnis and Sutherland at 5:10 p.m, but mall security worker Sandy Lee said that the entry could have been made within an hour of the incident.

Dan Hayward, who was working at a store in Centre Square Mall at the time, saw the fight but said he rarely arrived at his job before 5.30 p.m.

"There is no question that the accused was at Centre Square on the 16th, the question is when was it?" Sinclair said in his closing argument.

"What the defence has to show in the alibi is that it could come at a certain period of time, not that it definitely did," Latimer said.

Meaning of letter

The meaning of a letter written by McInnes to an acquaintance of his, Francis Thrasher, is also an issue.

In the letter, McInnes worried that he was being framed and asked Thrasher to keep George Patterson quiet.

Patterson, a former friend of McInnes, turned in a shotgun which lead to his arrest.

"It could be evidence of guilt, or it could be evidence of a frightened man," Latimer said.

But Sinclair saw it differently, reading from a portion of the letter which asked Thrasher to "memorize your story."

"It's clear that what Mr. McInnes is trying to do with this letter is to have Mr. Thrasher fabricate evidence which is favourable to his case," Sinclair said.

Latimer also questioned confessions attributed to McInnis.

He said two of the witnesses testifying to McInnes' confessions had an interest in claiming a $10,000 reward for information leading to the robber's arrest.

Sinclair argued that all of the confessions contained details that could only have been known by the robber.