October 29. 2013
For The New Brunswick Beacon
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
The murder trial for Harry Edward Charles McKenna continued in Fredericton today.
McKenna has been charged with second-degree murder in the Court of Queen’s Bench in connection with the death of Kirk Blair, 61. The trial began yesterday and is scheduled for eight days.
This morning, the victim’s wife, Johanna Blair, took the stand.
She testified that on the evening of April 30, 2013, she and her husband settled in for the night in their mobile home in Geary, N.B. They sat on opposite ends of the room in their respective La-Z-Boys. Johanna was in her pajamas.
They were watching a hockey game when they heard a knock at the door.
“Isn’t kind of late?” Johanna Blair said to her husband as he put down the foot rest of his chair. Kirk Blair got up, turned on the outside light and opened the only door to the residence.
That’s when Johanna Blair heard a ‘bang.’
She put down her footrest, put on her Crocs and walked over to the door. She told the court she saw her husband on the ground, and McKenna and David John Doucette standing in her kitchen. Doucette is the boyfriend of McKenna’s daughter.
McKenna asked Johanna for Kirk’s pin number, but she didn’t know it. The accused told Johanna to ask Kirk for his pin. She was given an envelope and asked to write it down.
Kirk didn’t respond, but eventually rolled towards the sound of Johanna’s voice and gasped out the pin number. She wrote it on the envelope and passed it over to McKenna and Doucette.
Johanna Blair told the court Doucette whispered, grabbed McKenna’s arm and gestured for the door.
Johanna then hit McKenna on the back of the head with a Teflon frying pan and forced him from her home.
She dialed 911 then heard two ‘smashes’ and another ‘bang.’ She dropped the receiver before speaking to anyone.
McKenna entered the kitchen alone, still holding the gun. Johanna Blair’s bowels released. She went to her bedroom to clean up and change her underwear. McKenna followed her and stood in the doorway, talking about how her husband said he would sell McKenna a motor and four tires.
The two then went back into the hallway.
“I saw Kirk there laying in blood,” Johanna Blair told the court. “My heart tightened and I couldn’t breathe.”
Johanna went outside to sit on the porch, smoke a cigarette and drink a bottle of water. McKenna told her they were going to his place – another
trailer, three-feet away, on the same property. She objected, saying his dogs make her stuffy.
McKenna took her to his residence anyway, a place she had only entered three or four times before. He sat her on the couch and sat on the couch across from her, still holding the gun. He spoke to her, but Blair had difficulty recalling the conversation for the court.
At some point, lights shone in the window of McKenna’s trailer and a police car pulled in the driveway. McKenna stashed his gun under the couch cushions and went to look out the window.
Johanna told the court she got up and ran out of the house towards the lone officer who had arrived in the police car.
“I said to her, ‘he shot my husband,’ and I kept running and hid behind the cruiser. I thought to myself, ‘I hope she knows what she’s doing.’”
She watched as the officer put handcuffs on McKenna, and put him in the back of the police car.
Johanna Blair told the court McKenna repeatedly threatened her while holding his gun.
“I thought I was gonna be next,” she said.
The Blairs moved to Geary from Ontario in the fall of 2012, so Kirk could retire from his job as a mason-carpenter and fish. They’d been married for 36 years.
Johanna Blair owned the property both trailers were located on. Her husband transferred it to her last November.
During the cross examination by the Defence, Johanna told the court she had first met McKenna about two years earlier when the couple was living in Ontario. She said her husband and McKenna were friends with a working relationship. She never saw them fight.
When asked why the Geary property was put in her name, Johanna Blair told the court she didn’t know, and wasn’t involved with her husband’s finances or his work affairs.
She testified seeing McKenna and Doucette leave and bring alcohol back to the residence twice, on the day of the murder. She said she never saw them drinking.
“I know he [McKenna] was drinking, but he was walkin’ fine, he was talkin’ fine,” said Johanna Blair.
She said he didn’t seem angry.
“His tone of voice never changed that night,” she told the court. “He wasn’t yelling or screaming or nothing. It was just normal talk.”
Johanna doesn’t remember the conversation in McKenna’s living room, nor small details like whether or not the TV was on. She told the court in the pauses between her sobs how stressed she was after seeing McKenna shoot her husband.
“Charlie [McKenna] was Kirk’s friend, at least I thought,” said Johanna.
The trial continues this afternoon.