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From a news article by Chris Morris–Legislature Bureau– Nov. 5,2016

Snake trial will proceed,but with 11 jurors

CAMPBELLTON- After a long delay, the criminal negligence trial arising from the deaths of two boys in a snake attack resumed on Friday,but with 11 jurors instead of 12.

Justice Fred Ferguson told the court that one of the jurors was “relieved of her duties” and discharged with the agreement of both prosecution and defence lawyers.

Ferguson told the remaining jurors that despite losing a day of evidence on Friday,he is confident the case will conclude on Wednesday after closing arguments by lawyers and his own charge to the jury.

It then will be up to the jurors to decide whether Jean-Claude Savoie is guilty or not guilty of criminal negligence in the deaths of brothers,Connor,6,and Noah Barthe,4,who were killed by a python on Aug. 5,2013.

Crown prosecutors and the defence agreed to two admissions of fact on Friday,admissions that will allow the trial to move ahead with fewer witnesses.

The first,key admission is agreement on both sides that the African rock python did escape from its enclosure in Savoie’s apartment”through a ventilation pipe”in the ceiling of the pen.

The agreement says the snake then got access to the living room of the apartment where the little boys were sleeping on a  mattress on the floor”attacked both and caused their deaths by asphyxiation.”

This admission means Crown prosecutor Pierre Roussel does not have to prove the snake travelled through the air duct,which,according to witnesses,often was open and exposed because of a loose cover.

The defence is conceding that is how the snake escaped and killed the brothers.

In the second statement read in court.both sides agree that in 2002, the Canadian Wildfire Service took into its custody a juvenile African rock python which they subsequently asked Savoie to care for in Campbellton. “At that time,destroying a seized animal was a last resort ,”the statement says.

The wildlife service said there was no funding given to Savoie for care and maintenance of the snake,identified as the one that killed the boys.

Roussel was supposed to conclude his case on Friday but the judge decided to give everyone a break and ended proceedings at lunch.

Roussel now is expected to call his last witness on Monday. The witness,Bob Johnson,former curator of reptiles and amphibians at the Toronto Zoo,is an expert in snake behaviour.

During the week,Roussel presented the Crown’s theory of what happened on Aug. 5,2013,when an African rock python escaped its enclosures in Savoie’s second floor apartment located on Pleasant Street in Campbellton.

The apartment was located above Savoie’s now-closed exotic pet business,called Reptile Ocean.

Savoie kept the snake,and a crocodile,in separate enclosures in the living quarters of the building.

It meant the python was just a few metres away from where brothers Connor,6, and four-year-old Noah Barthe  were sleeping on the living room floor.

Pathologist Dr. Marek Godlewski told the court the boys’ bodies were covered with many puncture wounds that matched the tooth pattern of the python,which is non-venomous but bites prey when constrictng.

“The pattern on the wounds was consistent with the pattern of the teeth.”Godlewski told the jury.

He said the boys had been asphyxiated and squeezed so tight,the skin of one of the boys got a “lace-like” pattern from the snake. there also were scaly bits of snake skin found on one of the boys.

Savoie has been charged with criminal negligence causing the deaths of the boys. He has pleaded not guilty.

Once the Crown concludes its case, the defence will begin its arguments.

 

 

Court resumes on Monday—Nove. 7,2016

 

Josie

 

 

 

 

News article from Chris MorrisLegislative Bureau– Nov. 3, 2016

Update : Pathologist tells court boys killed by asphyxiation in snake attack 

CAMPBELLTON–The bodies of the 2 little boys killed in a snake attack in Campbellton had multiple punctures,abrasions and internal bleeding caused by constriction of their chests and necks, a pathologist said Thursday.

One of the boys was squeezed so tight,the snake’s skin left a lace-like pattern on the child’s flesh,Dr. Mark Godlewski of St. John told the criminal negligence trial arising from the deaths of the brothers.

Godlewski said he found many puncture wounds on the bodies of Connor Barthe,6,and Noah Barthe,4, when he performed autopsies on Aug. 6,2013,the day after they were found dead in an  apt above an exotic pet business in Campbellton.

The pathologist was sent the head of the African rock python that had escaped its enclosure in the apartment and was later euthanized. He compared the puncture marks with the snake’s teeth and said they matched.

‘The pattern on the wounds was consistent with the pattern of the teeth,’ Godlewski told the jury.

Jean-Claude Savoie, the owner of the now-closed pet business called Reptile Ocean,has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. He has pleaded not guilty.

Godlewski said paleness around the mouths of the 2 boys indicated asphyxia due to neck strangulation and what he called “manual asphyxiation” caused by consistent pressure on the chest that prevented breathing. “Such as coiling around the body?”,asked Crown prosecutor Pierre Roussel. 

“Yes,”the pathologist said.

The African rock python is a non-venomous constrictor known for its ill-temper.

Another witness on Thursday discussed the size of the rock python in question,disclosing that it was not as large as some witnesses thought.

As well,Dr. James Goltz,the provincial veterinary pathologist who conducted the necropsy on the snake,said it had not been fed for at least 24 hours.

Some police witnesses and a former employee of the pet store have told the court the snake was massive at least 5 metres long and more than 100 lbs.

In fact,Goltz said it was 3.8 metres or 12 ft,4 in in length with a diameter of 4.25 inches (11 centimeters).

“It weighed 53 lbs(24kgs), the veterinarian said.

Goltz told the court that apart from some blood in its digestive tract,the snake had not eaten anything for some time,at least 24 hours.

He also said that the reptiles are capable of reducing the diameter of their bodies as they squeeze through tight spots such as holes or screwed.

Ocean Eagles, a former employee at the Reptile Ocean,told the court at Wednesday. She had not been overly worried about a loose cover on a vent in the snake’s enclosure because she assumed the snake was  too large to fit through the opening.

A frequent visitor to the exotic pet business also testified on Thursday and told the court the cover to a vent in the snake’s enclosure was off and lying on the floor just days before the boys died.

John O’Brien, the boyfriend of Mandy Trecartin,the mother of the 2 boys,said he often visited the pet store because Trecartin was a good friend of Savoie and his 3 year old son.

O’Brien told the court he doesn’t think the cap was ever covering,the vent during his visits, but he is only sure that he noticed it on 1 visit,about a week before the tragedy.

“The cap was not where it should have been”,O’Brien told the jury under questioning by Roussel.

“It was on the floor(of the snake enclosure).”

The jury has been told that the boys died while on a sleepover at Savoie’s apartment above the pet business. A large African rock python escaped its pen in the apt through an open vent and fell through the ceiling into the room where the boys were sleeping.

O’Brien said he checked on the boys after a panicky Savoie told Trecartin her boys were dead early on the morning of August 5,2013.

He said he went into the apt and checked for pules,but it was too late.

“They were blue’,he said.

Another witness on Thursday,Bernard Gallant,a reptile expert at the Magnetic Hill Zoo ,told the court officials with the Canadian Wildlife Service first offered the python to the zoo.

He said the zoo did not have room,but thought Savoie might be able to take it in Campbellton.

“We would have had to put it don,”Gallant said.’We didn’t have the enclosure for it.”

Thursday was day 4 of the criminal negligence trial among from the deaths of the boys Roussel is expected to wrap up the prosecution case on Friday.

Trecartin told the court Wednesday she assumed her boys were safe when she agreed to let them sleepover at the Savoie apt. Trecartin said she learned her boys were dead at around 6 : 50 on the morning of Aug. 5,2013.When Savoie burst through the front door of her house,which was near the pet store,and yelled towards her upstairs bedroom. “Oh my God!Oh my God!” Your 2 kids are dead,”she told the court. Trecartin said she never once thought her children would be in danger. She said they had slept over at Savoie ‘s about 10x prior to the tragedy. The Barthe boys were friends with Savoie’s little boy and Trecartin assigned the exotic pet store owner had taken precautions to keep the children safe.

 

Will keep you posted of any other news!

Josie

 

 

 

 

 

This news article from the Times and Transcript newspaper(based in Moncton,New Brunswick,Canada) came out today.

The article is titled “Accused in python deaths case appears in court” –written by Tim Jaques of The Tribune from Campbellton,New Brunswick,Canada.

Jean-Claude Savoie, accused of criminal negligence causing the death of two Campbellton boys in 2013,appeared in the court of Queen’s Bench in Campbellton on Thurs day to listen to a pretrial motion in the case brought against him.

Arguing the motion before Justice Frederick P. Ferguson were his lawyers,Les Matchim and Mikael Bernard, and Crown prosecutor Pierre F. Roussel.

The motion,however,is subject to a sweeping pretrial publication ban that forbids publication not only of any mention of what evidence was tendered and what was argued, but also what the motion is for and any reasons for the judge’s decision, prior to the conclusion of the case.

Information released to the media by RCMP immediately after the deaths alleged that a 45-kilogram African rock python escaped an enclosure in Savoie’s apartment in Campbellton during the early morning hours of August 5,2013. Connor,6, and Noah,4, were in the apartment on  a sleepover visiting Savoie’s son.

RCMP said at the time that they believe the snake asphyxiated the boys as they slept.

Savoie owned an exotic pets business downstairs from the apartment,called Reptile Ocean,which did not reopen after the incident.

The Department of Natural Resources with the assistance of outside experts seized animals,mostly reptiles,from the scene.

Savoie,who is living in the Montreal area,had not been present at previous court hearings.

He sported long hair and a short beard,wore a blue shirt and jeans,and appeared to be listening attentively from his front row seat. He entered and left on the lobby elevator with his lawyers,whose office is in the courthouse building.

The boys’ parents, Mandy Trecartin and Andrew Barthe,were not present,but their grandparents,Ernest and Linda Barthe,listened from a second-row seat.

The motion did not conclude on Thursday as scheduled,and will resume Friday at 1:30 pm. it is likely that Justice Ferguson will reserve any decision.

The case is scheduled for a judge-and-jury trial from Oct. 31 to Nov. 10.

More news updates to follow once available.

Josie

 

 

 

This news article from the Times and Transcript newspaper(based in Moncton,New Brunswick,Canada) came out today.

The article is titled “Motion in  Barthe deaths case next Thursday” written by Tim Jaques of The Tribune from Campbellton ,New Brunswick, Canada.

A pre-trial motion will be heard next week in the case of 39 y/o Jean-Claude Savoie ,charged with criminal negligence causing the 2013 deaths of Noah and Connor Barthe of Campbellton.

Accdg. to the current court docket,the defence motion,which had been originally been scheduled for several days,is now set for only one day,Thursday,April 28, in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Campbellton starting at 9:30 am,before Justice Frederick P. Ferguson.

Savoie’s lawyer,Les Matchim of Campbellton,has declined to speak to the nature of the motion because of a pre-trial publication ban in effect governing the evidence that will be used on the motion. However, the motion hearing itself is open to the public.

Scheduled to appear for the crown is Pierre F. Roussel.

In January,the dates for the trial had been set for Sept. 12 to 23,but the RCMP announced in a press release on Feb. 15 that in order to accommodate witnesses the date for the judge-and-jury trial was been put over to run from Oct. 31 to Nov. 11.

Savoie,who has not been present for previous court hearings and is not expected to be present on Thursday,was charged in March 2015. Information given to the media by RCMP immediately after the deaths alleged that a 45-kg African rock python escaped an enclosure in Savoie’s apartment during the early morning hours of Aug. 5,2013. Connor,6, and Noah,4, were in the apartment on a sleep over visiting Savoie’s son, and it was alleged that the snake asphyxiated the boys as they slept.

The apartment was situated above his Campbellton exotic pet business,Reptile Ocean,which has since closed. The exotic animals in the store and apartment,which were mainly reptiles,were seized by the dept. of National resources with the assistance of outside experts including Bruce Dougan of the Magnetic Hill Zoo in  Moncton..

Most of the creatures were parcelled out to zoos across North America,and the Magnetic Hill Zoo got two large Sulcata or African spurred tortoises. However 4 large alligators kept in the building’s basement had to be euthanized,as no zoo would take them.

The building remains vacant.

The unusual facts surrounding the deaths drew considerable international media attention to Campbellton in the weeks following the discovery of the boys’ bodies.

 

More news updates to follow once available.

Josie

 

 

This news article from the Times and Transcript newspaper(based in Moncton,New Brunswick ,Canada came out today:

The trial for a man charged after a snake he owned killed two boys in Campbellton in 2013 has been pushed into the fall.

Jean-Claude Savoie,39,formerly of Campbellton but currently living in Montreal, was charged in March 2015 with criminal negligence causing death after a  lengthy investigation.

The charge was laid in relation to the death of two young boys at his home,who were having a sleepover with Savoie’s son.

On Aug. 5,2013, a 45-kilogram African rock python escaped an enclosure in Savoie’s apartment, situated above his exotic  pet business,Reptile Ocean. RCMP say autopsies determined that four-year-old Noah Barthe and his six-year-old brother Connor died as the result of being asphyxiated by the snake while sleeping in the apartment.

Savoie elected trial by judge and jury and the trial was set to take place Sept. 12 to 23.

The New Brunswick RCMP announced in a news release on Monday that the court has changed those dates. In order to accomodate witnesses who will be called to testify, the trial will now take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 11.

 

I will keep you guys posted of any further developments regarding this.

Josie

 

Yesterday,April 27,2015 as scheduled,Jean-Claude Savoie,former owner of Reptile Ocean in Campbellton,New Brunswick,Canada  was served  by the Campbellton Provincial Court a single charge of criminal negligence causing the deaths of Noah and Connor Barthe by an African rock python on Aug. 5,2013.

Mr. Savoie(now living in Montreal,Quebec,Canada) wasn’t present in court but represented  by his lawyer Leslie Matchim who appeared before Judge Steven Hutchinson and elected trial by judge and jury in New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench.

A preliminary inquiry will then proceed and to be held from Nov. 24-27 this year so as to determine by that time  if there’s enough evidence to further proceed to a trial. If the presiding judge by that time so determines it to be so, the case will be sent to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

No plea was entered because accdg. to Mr. Matchim, this is normal because the charge is an indictable offence where Mr. Savoie had the choice of being tried wither in provincial court by a judge or in the Court of Queen’s Bench with or without a jury. Accdg. also to Mr. Matchim,having the preliminary inquiry is optional but he decided to take it up. He said that Mr. Savoie wasn’t required to appear yesterday,being only a procedural appearance but will have to appear at the preliminary inquiry.

More updates to follow once available.

Josie

This is a follow-up to my previous blog–Aug. 10,2013 regarding 2 little boys and a python. Obviously, the death of the 2 boys from the hands of the python had become a watershed event regarding animal rights, the right to possess exotic animals and the strengthening of legislature regarding the acquisition,care and maintenance of exotic animals by people with the appropriate credentials and abilities to do so.

A few incidents here in Canada ,particularly in British Columbia and Ontario had revealed the hypervigilance and subsequent reporting  by local citizens with regards to pythons whether such animals were on the loose or illegally detained in unnatural surroundings. On top of that, the police authorities responded very quickly to check on the citizens’ reporting of such python sightings as well as involving zoologists,especially reptile specialists in such situations.

Pet stores and reptile emporiums also are now pressing their local Dept. of Natural Resources regarding the proper procedure to get a license/permit so as to validate their possession of exotic animals.

Local politicians are now reviewing their current by-laws,provincial laws and federal laws if any, to see if any amendments need to be done.

At this time, the Campbellton police in northern New Brunswick are still awaiting the final autopsy on the 2 little boys which may become available sometime next month . When that happens, depending on the findings, formal criminal changes will be determined and if needed on the owner of Reptile Ocean, the scene of the python attack on the 2 little boys–Connor and Noah Barthe.

So far, the owner Jean-Claude Savoie hasn’t said anything further in public upon the advise from his lawyer.

The Campbellton Dept. of Natural Resources had publicly insisted that they had never issued a permit to Mr. Savoie since the python,an African Rock type was a banned specie in New Brunswick province. The agency also claimed that they were never aware of the existence of such a python on their locality.

In the midst of such a tragic event, Connor and Noah’s death will not be in vain  since there’s a new-found awareness regarding exotic animals and how to deal with them appropriately.

Josie

Eversince this past Monday August 5 here in Canada, most Canadian provinces and territories were celebrating their respective civic holidays( as I had last discussed about it on my very last blog) when the unthinkable and horrible had happened.

On that fateful early Monday morning, breaking news came out of the small city of Campbellton,New Brunswick( population : 10,000,near the Quebec border and a 4 hour drive from my place)of 2 little boys apparently strangled in their sleep by an African rock python weighing about 100 lbs and approx. 3-4 meters in height. The boys’ names were Connor Barthe(age 6) and Noah Barthe(age 4).

Initial details as mentioned by the police were that the 2 boys were having a sleepover with the son of a reptile shop owner at the apartment  which was located above the shop called Reptile Ocean. Accdg. to the owner, he woke up early that morning and was going to check on the 2 boys who were both on the other room and upon opening the light, saw in horror the 2 boys now dead with the python nearby.

Further police details reported that apparently the python was in a cage inside that upstairs apartment and not downstairs in the reptile shop. The latch apparently gave way and the python slithered out and went into the ventilation system located above the cage and due to its weight, had fallen through the ceiling into the vicinity where the 2 boys were sleeping.

An autopsy was performed on the 2 boys and preliminary results revealed asphyxiation by the python as cause of death. The python was put to death and a necropsy was performed. A full autopsy report on the 2 boys will be available sometime next month,together with the python. The python upon initial examination appeared healthy.

The police will continue their investigation now deemed as criminal and will decide on further charges depending on the full autopsy report yet to be released. Determining the actual events which led to the boys’ death is high priority.It’ll take a lot of detective work on that for ,considering so many inconsistencies found during the investigation.

For example, there were a lot of inconsistencies in terms of the python’s behavior accdg. to the reptile experts and it appears that the python in question is a banned species in New Brunswick province and that no permit was ever issued by the provincial dept. of natural resources nor was there any awareness on their part that the python was there in that shop in the first place.

The reptile shop now and still deemed at this time as a crime scene had been inspected and 27 banned reptilian species have been uncovered. Arrangements had been made to transfer them to various zoos and certified reptile shops all over Canada  except for 4 crocodiles which had to be put to sleep since no accomodations can be found for them.

This entire episode is tragic ,horrible ,unthinkable yet preventable if precautions were made in terms of laws regarding possession and care of exotic animals. For sure,animal rights groups will have their say too but in the meantime, 2 boys’ lives are now gone and their parents’ anguish is something that was imposed on them and will stay on forever for as long as they live.

I had just watched today, the TV coverage of the funeral mass for the 2 boys both placed inside 1 coffin per parents’ request since both of them had lived and died together,therefore they get to be buried together as well.

For their sake, I hope their deaths had not been in vain and may actual reform in terms of the laws regarding exotic animals be implemented in light of this horrible event.

Exotic animals in my opinion should thrive in their natural habitat and not be in surroundings like a cage since it usurps the ecological balance of life. They act and react by natural animal instinct and we humans should always bear that in mind especially if they’re considering these animals as potential pets.

I just hope that the boys weren’t aware of what had actually happened to them that is, they died while asleep.

The ongoing onslaught of news coverage both local,national and international had besieged the city of Campbellton beyond the local residents’ imagination. Hopefully, their regular pace of life should return soon though I strongly believe that it’ll never be the same again for them  after this python incident.

My heart goes out to the parents. If it’s any consolation for them, it’s to see how so many people empathizes their situation right now and giving their all-out moral support to help them through this.

2013 may be the year of the snake accdg to  the Chinese lunar calendar but what a tragic irony that it had happened at this very moment in Campbellton,New Brunswick, Canada.

To Connor and Noah, may you  both enjoy your new life in Heaven ! I’m pretty sure that both of your parents will be looking forward to seeing you all someday once their time in this world is over.

Au revoir!

Josie