Accused murderer admits Ann Marie Shirran died after he pushed her, but the Crown points to big coverup
David Folker said that when he grabbed Ann Marie Shirran by the neck and threw her, he didn’t think she’d die.
But he admitted to taking elaborate steps over the course of two months to cover up what had happened.
“It was my actions that killed her …,” Folker said while testifying at his trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Thursday.
“I didn’t intend to kill her.”
David Folker answered questions for the defence at Supreme Court in St. John’s Thursday about the night of Ann Marie Shirran’s death. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
However, in cross-examination, the Crown argued that the lies Folker told, the calculated decisions he made and the measures he took after Shirran died were all to hide evidence that would implicate him.
“You seemed very clear-headed to me, Mr. Folker. What do you say to that?” prosecutor Lloyd Strickland said.
“I don’t know what to say,” Folker replied.
Every seat in the courtroom was filled when Folker took the stand to explain to the jury how his 32-year-old girlfriend and mother of his son died on July 18, 2010, and why he did what he did afterwards.
Folker is charged with second-degree murder and interfering with a dead human body.
On the second day of his trial four weeks ago — more than three years after Shirran’s remains were found by campers on Sept. 3, 2010, in a wooded area on the Southern Shore — Folker admitted Shirran died as a result of a physical altercation between them.
He also admitted to disposing of her personal items in the woods off Blackhead Road and to dumping her body in the woods near Cappahayden. He admitted he lied to police about her being missing, despite the extensive search that was underway.
“I gave false information,” Folker testified under direct questioning by defence co-counsel Scott Hurley. “I concocted it.”
Folker told the court that on the night of July 18, 2010, he and Shirran — who he said had a mental illness — had argued at their basement apartment in Kilbride.
He said Shirran had come out of their one-year-old son Moses’ bedroom, having put him down for the night.
“She was angry,” Folker said. “She just started swinging.”
He said she was cursing, and that she grabbed him by the shirt and punched him in the head.
“I said ‘no, no no,’” he said. “I backed off and tried to block the shots.”
At that moment, he said, he looked in Moses’ bedroom and saw that his crib railing was down a few inches.
Determined to tend to their son, he said, “I grabbed her by the throat, swung her around and threw her.”
He said he heard a thump, but didn’t turn to see what happened to her. He said his ears were ringing form getting punched in the head.
When he came out of the bedroom, he said, he saw Shirran lying on the floor of the kitchen. He knelt down next to her and picked the top part of her body up and held her in his arms.
He then saw blood and fainted, he said. He came to shortly after.
When Hurley asked why he didn’t call 911, Folker said he was scared.
“I had visions of (police) coming in and blaming me for this and then I’d never see Moses again,” he said.
He said he then put Shirran’s body in the bathtub.
“Why did you do that?” Hurley asked.
“I don’t know,” Folker said. “I wasn’t in the right mind.”
Afraid he would go to jail, Folker said, “I decided I had to hide her, put her somewhere. I didn’t know where.”
That’s when Folker got two moving blankets from the storage room and wrapped Shirran up in them. He got tape and wrapped it around.
He said while he was carrying Shirran’s body over his shoulder outside to his SUV, he tripped on the top step, causing her body to smash down on the pavement.
Once he put her in the SUV, he said, he got Moses out of his crib and put him in his car seat in the vehicle.
“I drove south,” he said. “I didn’t know where I was going.”
He drove for more an hour, turned off a dirt road near Cappahayden and carried her body in the dark through the thick bushes and left her on the ground. Moses, he said, slept through the whole thing.
“Did you have second thoughts at that time?” Hurley asked.
“Yeah, but my son had already lost his mother,” said Folker, who said he didn’t want Moses to lose his father as well.
Folker then went home, put Moses back to bed and he cleaned up the blood on the floor.
The next day, he said, he took the moving blankets, bloody towels, Shirran’s purse, glasses and cellphone, and his sneakers, which were blood stained, and threw them away in the woods off Blackhead Road.
As part of his plan to cover up what he did, he called Shirran’s friends and family to ask if anyone had seen her. He told them she had stormed out after an argument.
“I felt like I was someone else,” he said. “I was justifying it in my mind.”
Later that day, Shirran’s concerned mother, Diane Baggs, coaxed Folker to call police.
“I had planned to call police and report her missing,” Folker testified. “But I didn’t think I should do that too early. I didn’t know the protocol for missing persons.”
Throughout his testimony, Baggs broke down crying several times.
Folker said he was aware there was an extensive search for Shirran, but still kept quiet because he was afraid of losing Moses.
He even went back to Cappahayden several times to try to find Shirran’s body before someone else did. He said he planned to bury it, but he couldn’t find it.
He admitted as time went on, and as police grew suspicious of him, it was harder to keep lying.
Yet he did, even after he was arrested on Sept. 6, 2010.
“I still believed I had a chance of getting Moses back,” said Folker, whose son was taken from his custody about a month after Shirran disappeared.
When asked why he is now coming clean about what happened, Folker said because he knows he’s facing jail time and that he won’t be getting Moses back.
On cross-examination, Strickland repeated one by one the things he did to cover up Shirran’s death.
“Between wrapping her body, driving so far, dumping her personal items and getting phone numbers (of family and friends), this is all very elaborate,” Strickland said.
“Yes,” Folker replied.
“Were they intentional?” Strickland said.
“Yes,” Folker said.
“You were prepared to let Diane Baggs stay in the dark about what happened to her daughter, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” Folker said.
“You were prepared to let her son believe that his mother just walked out the door?”
“At that time, yes,” he said.
Folker’s testimony will continue today.