Friday 8 December 2000
'I know she is going to kill me for this'
Cherrylle Dell's former lover feared reprisals in the months before her death, court toldPeter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen
PEMBROKE -- The first-degree murder trial of Cherrylle Dell entered a new phase yesterday, focusing on the last days of Mrs. Dell's lover, Nancy Fillmore.
In effect, the remainder of the Crown's case against Mrs. Dell, a 46-year-old Killaloe woman, accused of killing her estranged husband, Scott, has become a murder trial within a murder trial.
Mr. Dell, 44, died nearly five years ago of antifreeze poisoning. His death was at first thought to have been a suicide. Authorities are now trying to prove that Mrs. Dell duped her spouse into drinking a bottle of poisoned wine she had given him.
However, Mrs. Dell faces a future trial on another charge of first-degree murder, in connection with the death of Ms. Fillmore three years ago. Ms. Fillmore, 39, died of smoke inhalation when her apartment caught fire on Aug. 19, 1997, five months after she gave police a statement regarding the death of Mr. Dell and four months before Mrs. Dell was charged with killing her spouse.
Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick ruled Ms. Fillmore's videotaped statement to police was inadmissible at the current trial. However, Pembroke Crown attorney Peter Barnes said yesterday he is calling evidence concerning Ms. Fillmore to demonstrate Mrs. Dell's "post-offence conduct" after she allegedly killed her husband.
Mr. Barnes is expected to argue Mrs. Dell knew her ex-lover would be a potential witness against her and arranged to have her killed.
Court heard yesterday that in April 1997, Ms. Fillmore, about a month after she broke up with Mrs. Dell, called child protection authorities to complain that Mrs. Dell's children were being neglected. Court also heard that she then said: "I know she is going to kill me for this, but my concern is for the children."
Jackie Baycroft, who took the call from Ms. Fillmore, said she soon received a call from Mrs. Dell, who said of Ms. Fillmore: "I'm going to get that bitch. She's stuck her nose in my business far too often."
Kim Meisel, who said she was Ms. Fillmore's best friend after she left Mrs. Dell's home, said Ms. Fillmore was fearful and apprehensive in the months before she died.
"She just always seemed to be looking over her shoulders, so to speak," Ms. Meisel said.
"She was frightened for her life," Ms. Meisel continued. "She felt she wasn't going to make it to the trial."
Ms. Meisel, Ms. Fillmore and a woman named Karen Grasley knew each other from their work at the Killaloe Resource Centre, a facility to help the out-of-work and less fortunate in the area.
Ms. Meisel intended to throw Ms. Fillmore a surprise bon voyage party, knowing she was going to leave Killaloe, court heard.
Hours before Ms. Fillmore died, she had a last run-in with Mrs. Dell. That afternoon, she went to Mrs. Dell's house with a court order in hand, two friends and a bailiff to help, and a police officer to make sure the peace was kept.
Ms. Fillmore went to claim her property, which had been left for months at Mrs. Dell's house after their relationship ended badly.
Court heard that a teenager, who cannot be named, was nearby as Ms. Fillmore removed her property. The teenager is co-accused with Mrs. Dell of killing Ms. Fillmore.
Antoinette Fargnoli, who helped Ms. Fillmore, testified that the young man was sitting on the grass, whispering and laughing with Mrs. Dell.
The teenager also knew Ms. Fillmore, Ms. Meisel said. He was "in awe," she said. "He had never met a real lesbian before."
The trial, which began Nov. 20, resumes in Ottawa Dec. 12. The teenager is to testify next week.
The trial is expected to continue until the end of January.
Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.