Ottawa Citizen
Thursday 4 January 2001

Teen supposed to 'take out' key witness

Crown attempts to show Cherrylle Dell's actions prove she killed her husband

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

A day before Nancy Fillmore died, Brent Crawford told an acquaintance he was supposed to kill her, an Ottawa judge was told yesterday.

"He said he was supposed to do a job to take out Nancy Fillmore," Terry Lyon testified. "I remember asking him if he was going to do it. He said he didn't know yet."

Mr. Lyon, a 21-year-old Killaloe man, gave evidence yesterday at the first-degree murder trial of Cherrylle Dell, a 46-year-old Killaloe woman accused of poisoning her estranged husband, Scott Dell, in December 1995.

Mr. Lyon said yesterday that Mr. Crawford told him he was to "take out" Ms. Fillmore because she was a "key witness" in the killing of Mr. Dell.

The two allegedly intertwined murder cases and Mrs. Dell, who is at the centre of them, have become notorious in the Ottawa Valley since Mr. Dell's death more than five years ago.

Mrs. Dell is currently on trial in connection with the death of her husband. However, she faces a separate trial in connection with the August 1997 death of Ms. Fillmore, who had been her lover when Mr. Dell died. Mr. Crawford, 19, faces his own first-degree murder trial, having been accused of setting the fire that killed Ms. Fillmore at Mrs. Dell's request.

In a complicated legal manoeuvre, Pembroke Crown attorney Peter Barnes is calling evidence pertaining to Ms. Fillmore's death, hoping evidence of Mrs. Dell's actions helps to prove she killed her husband nearly two years earlier.

Mrs. Dell's defence lawyers are effectively dealing with two murder trials in one.

It remains for Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick to rule whether a July 1999 police videotape of Mr. Crawford confessing to the killing of Ms. Fillmore is admissible. Mr. Crawford, testifying last month, denied any involvement in the death of Ms. Fillmore.

Defence lawyer Robert Selkirk is expected to argue today that the videotape should not be admitted because Mr. Crawford was gulled into confessing by police flattery and coercion.

Prosecutor Mr. Barnes called Mr. Lyon to the stand today in an effort to show that Mr. Crawford implicated himself in the killing of Ms. Fillmore long before he dealt with police -- days after she died and even before the fire occurred.

Mr. Lyon said that on the day after the fire, Mr. Crawford told him he was paid for the "job," and he treated him to supper. Mr. Crawford said he and Mr. Lyon could have their ears pierced, court heard. Then, Mr. Lyon helped Mr. Crawford move the few possessions he owned to Mrs. Dell's home.

Mr. Crawford told police during the videotaped interview that he had been sexually involved with Mrs. Dell, but he now denies that too.

Mr. Lyon said he "just tolerated" Mr. Crawford, who he said was widely disliked as a "loser." He said he punched Mr. Crawford a few times because of his rudeness, and he once threw Mr. Crawford's bicycle into the river.

Court also heard Mr. Lyon once said of Mrs. Dell: "I want that little bitch going down for it." However, Mr. Lyon made clear he had no grudge against Mrs. Dell, who once had been his neighbour. He said she simply should not get away with the alleged crime.

He also said he had not wanted to go to police with what Mr. Crawford had told him. Mr. Lyon said he told investigators because he was concerned police thought he had been involved in Ms. Fillmore's death.

"That had a lot to do with why I gave statements ... to prove my innocence," he said.

The trial, which began Nov. 20, resumes today, and is expected to conclude by the end of this month.

The Crown's case is in its waning days, with only a few witnesses expected to be called. Among them is an expert on suicide. When Mr. Dell died, after apparently drinking wine laced with antifreeze, his death was originally considered to be a suicide.

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.