"Turn on the faucets," Derek MacPhee said, barging into his friend's house. His snoozing buddy John Lively had taken some downers to keep away any cocaine related "the skitzies." Lively woke up and heard MacPhee explain that it was time to start crying and to call the cops, because there was a dead man in their house.
Terry Marriott and MacPhee were partners in crime. They had been dealing cocaine together, and that morning Marriott had just taken $1800 worth of coke. MacPhee scoured his bloody friend's pockets and found a gram and $15. He and Lively could take one more hit before the cops arrived.
Their friend Terry Marriott was dead, and MacPhee said that he was part of the reason why.
But this trial wasn't about Derek MacPhee. It was about notorious Nova Scotia gangster Jimmy Melvin Jr., who was acquitted of first degree murder in the case of Marriott's death Friday afternoon. Crown prosecutors argued that MacPhee was caught between his loyalties to two friends—driving Melvin to their friends' house on his four-wheeler so that Melvin could go downstairs and kill Marriott himself.
MacPhee said Melvin killed Marriott because the two were embroiled in a multigenerational rivalry. Both families have been involved in a number of crimes, many of them drug-related.
The jury never got to hear much about why cops think Melvin might want to kill Marriott. But the beef between their two families has been well-documented. Capulets and Montagues with ATVs and a lot of drugs. It's a multi-generational rivalry that may have connections to the city's coke supply, but at least one source has told VICE it may be more rooted in disrespect and personal slights. Melvin is still charged with a 2008 murder attempt to kill Marriott. He remains in custody.
But after a day-and-a-half long deliberation process following a four-week-long trial, a jury for the Nova Scotia Supreme Court declared Melvin not guilty of first degree murder: MacPhee's story and the other evidence failed to convince them that Melvin was the one that shot Marriott. According to the CBC, "there were quiet gasps in the courtroom and one woman stormed out before the jury was even dismissed as members of Marriott's family expressed anger that the man accused of killing him had just been acquitted."
During closing statements, Crown prosecutor Rick Woodburn had urged the jury to believe MacPhee, his star witness, despite his lifestyle as a professional criminal. "We're not here to judge how people live," Crown attorney Christine Driscoll said when the case began.
But MacPhee was, the Crown admitted, an unsavory character. MacPhee, who was friends with both Marriott and Melvin, had admitted to lying under oath before, and had previously testified in exchange for a deal. MacPhee had received regular cash payments from the Halifax Regional Police agreed to testify against Melvin in exchange for immunity over his involvement in a brutal 2015 home invasion. MacPhee got immunity from all his prior crimes, as well, including his admitted involvement in Marriott's death.
Then there was defense lawyer Patrick MacEwen's suggestion that MacPhee had been sleeping with Nadine, Terry's wife, before the murder, giving him the perfect reason to commit the crime himself. MacPhee denied it on the stand, saying that they did become romantic, but at least a month after Terry died. Meanwhile, Nadine Marriott says MacPhee was lying and they never had a relationship at all.
Finally, MacPhee had gunshot residue on his hands and DNA from Terry Marriott in his pockets. MacPhee's testimony suggests that this could be because he had been touching Marriott's body when he went to get the coke. But MacEwen suggested that MacPhee shot Marriott alone and lied that Melvin had been there with him.
"I know it sounds like I've been prosecuting Derek MacPhee," said MacEwen, in his closing statements." But he added that MacPhee was not on trial and would never go to prison for what happened —the only person who was being charged here was Melvin, and the Crown hadn't adequately proved he was involved. MacEwen said if there was any doubt in their mind about who did it, they should not convict Melvin, and urged them not to convict his client based on what he called MacPhee's "selfish lies."
Early in the trial while MacPhee was testifying, he had an outburst on the witness stand before court went on the record and yelled at Melvin Jr.'s family, who were sitting in the courthouse. "Fuck you, Rob," he said. "Stop trying to look so hard, you fucking little maggot."
Justice Jamie Campbell told those in the stands to stop gesturing and communicating with the witness.
Melvin is known for his dramatics in the Halifax crime world. In 2009, he started a now-defunct website called RealLiveStreetShit.com, which included videos where he showed off his money and clips of news videos about him and his family. During a teleconference with the court, in a 2016 hearing in preparation for his murder trial, Melvin stood up wearing an open suicide gown, showing off his genitals.
Melvin has a criminal record going back nearly 20 years. He has been convicted of crimes including assault causing bodily harm, conspiracy and drug trafficking.
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