deadmonton - the trial of michael white - november 14th, 2006

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Liana White, 29, was stabbed to death July 12th, 2005.

Michael White, then 28, was charged with second-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body.

<< november 10th, 2006 | the michael white trial | november 15th, 2006 >>

The trial resumed with testimony from police officers who observed Michael White picking up two garbage bags from a field and placing them in front of his house.

Const. George Crawford told court of surveillance that police conducted on Liana's husband.

Crawford said he and several other officers starting watching White effective 4:25 p.m. on July 14th, 2005, two days after he reported his wife missing.

At about 9 p.m. on the 14th, White was seen standing in the back of his pickup truck addressing his group of volunteer searchers a short distance from Rural Route 251 at Township Road 542. The gathering lasted twenty minutes.

Forty minutes later Crawford saw White walking into a field of waist-high weeds near 127 Street and north of 167 Avenue and "bending down at the waist and picking up two garbage bags."

Crawford then observed White load the bags into the back of his pick-up truck.

From how White handled the black plastic bags, Crawford said they didn't appear very heavy or full.

White was then seen driving to his Castle Downs home a few minutes away and placing the bags near his driveway.

At 9:00 a.m. the next day, Const. Michael Wynnyk stopped a passing garbage truck normally assigned to the area near 227 Warwick Crescent.

"I told [the driver] I was interested in a couple bags in the neighbourhood," said Wynnyk.

Wynnyk testified the driver picked up the bags from the White house and kept it separate from the other garbage in the back of the truck.

The officer described how he held onto the truck's rear handrail, then rode along to keep an eye on the bags before they were seized by forensics officers.

Edmonton Journal image

Court earlier heard the two bags contained a broken lamp matching one found in the Whites’ bedroom, blood-stained latex gloves, still-wet bloody paper towels and blood-stained clothing.

Next on the stand was Sgt. Paul Wright, in charge of co-ordinating the police search.

He testified that dogs, tactical officers and the Air-1 helicopter were used to try and locate Liana. Also volunteering were members of the Edmonton Regional Search and Rescue Association.

Wright said that Michael White formed his own search group made up of family and friends. White used a map of his own design to keep track of his team's efforts which were outside of the area police were checking – see note »

A member of White's group, Nicole Sevigny, testified that she and some of Michael's co-workers helped him with his search on July 15th, 2005.

CTV Edmonton image

Sevigny stated her group headed north following railroad tracks that parallel 142nd Street but White called them back saying the area had already been searched.

Two days later Michael’s mother, Carol Forbes, suggested while riding in her son's truck that they search the same area because of its thick vegetation. This time Michael said nothing.

CTV Edmonton image

On July 17th, just as the police were wrapping up for the day, White and his group found Liana’s body near Range Road 251 at Township Road 542.

CTV Edmonton image

Barb Ashton, a friend of the White's, testified she was walking in the area when Carol Forbes smelled something "horrible."

Forbes then spotted a part of a leg poking out from under a tangle of branches and leaves.

"It looked like a wig in dirt," Ashton testified. "Carol ran past me and said 'It's her, she has a dolphin on her ankle.' "

Ashton said, "[White] dropped to his knees and cried. He was in denial."

As the area where Liana White was found bordered on Edmonton's city limits, the RCMP were also involved in search efforts.

Const. James Bell of the Morinville detachment arrived at the site 20 minutes after receiving a 911 call at 4:41 p.m. that Liana's body was discovered.

CTV Edmonton image

Bell testified White was upset and crying and heard him saying, "That's not my wife."

He later overheard White tell his self-organised search team that he wanted to do his own investigation.

Bell then quoted Michael White making a statement that may ultimately prove to be ironic.

"Mr. White said that he wanted to take photographs of licence plates of people driving by, because people responsible always come back to the scene," Bell testified.

The Mountie said family members then told White to let police do their work.

The trial continued November 15th, 2006

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