Ottawa Citizen
Thursday 14 December 2000

Man admitted killing Dell's ex-lover, court told

Admission made in note, phone calls

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

When Brent Crawford took the witness stand yesterday, he said the worst thing he had done to Nancy Fillmore was take her bicycle and not pay her the agreed upon $20 for it.

But in a handwritten note obtained by an undercover police officer, he admitted in graphic detail to killing her.

"I go to Nancy Fillmore's house and find her drunk and passed out on the floor of her living room with all of her candles lit. So instead of cutting her neck, I flipped over all the tables with the candles and leave," the note read.

The note was entered as an exhibit in court yesterday at the first-degree murder trial of Cherrylle Dell, a 46-year-old Killaloe woman who is accused of killing her estranged husband Scott.

In his note, Mr. Crawford wrote that Mrs. Dell had asked him to kill Ms. Fillmore.

"I asked her, 'what's in it for me?' She said a motorbike and $300. I told her yes and we went back to smoking more weed."

Court also heard that when Mr. Crawford spoke to his parents last year, he admitted to killing her. The admission was part of a intercepted phone call played in court yesterday.

"What made you come out and admit to it?" his father, Ronald, asked him.

"Quicker this way," he said.

"You're admitting to it 100 per cent?"

"Yup."

"I guess that's why the lie detector didn't lie."

The evidence pertaining to Mr. Crawford and Ms. Fillmore is the final leg of the Crown's case against Mrs. Dell.

On Dec. 29, 1995, Mr. Dell, then 44, died of antifreeze poisoning and his death was originally thought to have been a suicide.

The Crown is seeking to prove that Mrs. Dell duped her spouse into drinking antifreeze mixed with wine.

Ms. Fillmore, who was Mrs. Dell's lover when Mr. Dell died, was killed in a fire Aug. 19, 1997.

Five months earlier, her relationship with Mrs. Dell had ended and she gave a statement to police regarding Mr. Dell's death. Mrs. Dell faces another first-degree murder charge in connection with Ms. Fillmore's death.

Mr. Crawford, now 19, has also been charged with first-degree murder.

While the death of Ms. Fillmore is to be the subject of future trials, it figures at the current trial in that Renfrew County Crown attorney Peter Barnes intends to argue that Ms. Fillmore's death, allegedly in an arson prompted by Mrs. Dell, is "post-offence conduct" evidence helping to prove that she also killed her husband.

From the witness stand, Mr. Crawford told the court that he knew Mrs. Dell and Ms. Fillmore, but said he had nothing to do with Ms. Fillmore's death.

He told his mother otherwise last year in a phone call from jail.

"You were totally in your right mind when you did this murder?" asked his mother, Rose Pickell.

"Not really," he replied.

"Well, what mind were you in?"

"A lot of weed, but I knew what I was doing if that's what you mean."

"Were you paid to, though?" his mother asked.

"Yeah."

"To do the murder?"

"Yeah."

"Did you know this woman would die, Brent?"

"Yeah."

"So you went and killed the woman knowing she set a woman's place on fire, knowing she'd die?"

"Yeah."

"You hated her?"

"No."

"So you just kill people?"

"She was going to testify against someone in court ... she was the star witness," Mr. Crawford replied.

Mr. Crawford refused to tell his mother who that "someone" was. "I'm not implicating anyone else," he said.

"You will," his mother replied.

"No I won't. I'll do the full 25. I'll do the full bit."

"Yeah, big boy Brent. ... That's not mature."

"No I'll die in jail if I, if I don't."

The audiotapes of the telephone calls were played in court yesterday at a voir dire -- a trial within a trial.

Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick, who is hearing the case in place of a jury, is to determine whether the tapes can be admitted as evidence.

Earlier yesterday, court heard that Mrs. Dell spoke of a "boy who would do anything for her."

She referred to the "boy" as "her prince," said Brandy Cameron, who was an inmate at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre with Mrs. Dell in the spring of 1998.

Ms. Cameron, 25, has testified that Mrs. Dell told her she put antifreeze in her husband's wine.

Under cross-examination, she denied she gained her information about Mrs. Dell from other inmates.

She did say Mrs. Dell had had a rough time in jail. Mrs. Dell once drove a pencil into her own leg, Ms. Cameron said.

Also, other inmates were making her life difficult. Among them was Julia Yvonne Elliott, her former jailhouse lover and "ruler of the roost" behind bars, court heard.

Ms. Elliott, a Barbadian national, gained notoriety last year when a murder charge against her was stayed because of police and Crown improprieties.

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.