Josiph Cardle and Carolyn Campbell had been in a domestic common-law relationship for more than 20 years when Campbell was taken off life support on July 11, 2018, six days after Toronto police were called to the couple’s east-end apartment.
In her opening address at Cardle’s first-degree murder trial, assistant Crown prosecutor Beverley Olesko told the jury Campbell was a transgender woman and she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and relied on a home breathing machine. Oxygen was delivered to her nose through nasal prongs affixed to tubing that was attached to a machine.
On the morning of July 11 at around 9:40 a.m., a 911 call was made but Olesko explained “it was a hang-up.” When the dispatcher called back and no one picked up, an officer was sent to the address associated with the phone number at an apartment building on Pharmacy Avenue, south of St. Clair Avenue East.
That officer, Const. Jerome Desrochers, testified when he arrived at the apartment, that he knocked on the door and Cardle answered, saying “something along the lines of ‘she’s unresponsive.’”
Desrochers said Cardle turned around and started walking into the apartment before he followed Cardle inside.
“I watched him reach down (and) I see him press, ‘Turn on the machine,’ which I now know is an oxygen machine. As I walked by, I could see tubes on the ground. I could see a female in a rocking chair who appeared unresponsive — mouth open, eyes open,” he said, explaining how Campbell was hooked up to the machine.
A portable phone was found on her lap with a missed call displayed on the screen.
Desrochers told the court he put Campbell on the ground and began performing CPR, calling for additional medical personnel on his police radio, and began asking questions of Cardle.
It’s then when he said Cardle told him Campbell had asked him to call 911 because she was not feeling well.
“He called, he gave her the phone, and he went into his room,” Desrochers testified.
“At some point, I asked if she had any illness. He said a lot: Cancer, breathing issues. Before that, I asked him, ‘Did you try to help her?’ He answered ‘I called.’ I asked him, ‘Why was the oxygen machine off?’ To that response, there was a pause. He stated something along the lines of ‘he had turned it off.’”
He said Cardle never answered why.
Paramedics arrived and also tried to revive Campbell and managed to get a pulse. The court heard the 52-year-old was rushed to Michael Garron Hospital where she suffered irreversible brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She was taken off life support on July 11.
Another officer who later photographed the apartment testified he found a power of attorney booklet sitting on the dining room table. It had no names on it.
A female officer who came to Desrochers’ aid when he made a call over the police radio for back-up testified she spoke to Cardle when she arrived after Desrochers asked her to take him out of the living room.
“[Cardle] said he turned off the oxygen tank. He said he thought she was going to turn it back on. He said she turned it on and off all the time,” she testified.
The female officer said she cautioned him when Cardle made those statements.
“He said they were living together for about 20 years. All she does is complain. He went to say how he pulled his hamstring the previous day. He hadn’t slept in 48 hours. He suffered from PTSD and bipolar disorder,” she told the court.
Cardle, who is out on bail, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He declined to speak with Global News outside of court.
Olesko told the jury that almost a year to the day before Campbell died on July 15, 2017, Campbell was home with Cardle. She was having difficulty breathing and called an ambulance for help.
She said Cardle ripped a chair from underneath her, causing her to fall to the ground and that he told her, “If she needed help, she could crawl for it.” The jury heard Cardle was eventually arrested for assaulting Campbell and eventually pled guilty.
Before the opening statement, Justice Al O’Marra explained the layout of the jury with some sitting behind the lawyers, some in the jury box, and others, where prisoners might sometimes sit, was unusual.
“The pandemic has altered our usual use of such courtrooms,” he explained, reassuring the court that jurors, lawyers and the judge and the accused are fully vaccinated “to give some peace of mind with respect to the COVID-19 situation.”
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