Former home owner where woman died, drug expert testify during Day 9 of Sarnia murder trial

Sarnia murder trial Day 3 features 911 call and a

A couple of months ago, Lynn Power got a message from someone on Facebook with whom she wasn’t friends.

A couple of months ago, Lynn Power got a message from someone on Facebook with whom she wasn’t friends.

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The unknown account was linked to Sydney Trowbridge. The message asked if there was any damage to a bedroom door in the Corunna house she sold in late 2020 to Shawn Trowbridge, Sydney Trowbridge’s father, and his common-law wife, Cheryl VanHuizen. The message also said they weren’t looking for any compensation and explained it was linked to a family situation.

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Shawn Trowbridge, a 54-year-old boilermaker, is on trial this fall in Sarnia for first-degree murder in the Dec. 31, 2020 death of VanHuizen, his on-and-off partner of about seven years. Damage to a master bedroom door in their Corunna home has been a major focus of the Crown’s case through the first two weeks following Trowbridge’s not guilty plea on Nov. 14.

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Cheryl VanHuizen (Obituary)

Power, unaware who the mysterious messenger was, responded almost immediately saying there wasn’t any damage to the door when she lived there. She later followed up with questions about how this Facebook account tracked her down and knew who she was.

Then, she decided to call the police.

“I just didn’t feel right,” she declared Tuesday.

Power’s testimony marked the start of week three of what’s expected to be a six-week jury trial.

While on the stand, she was shown photos of the damage and a stain on a door. Power said they weren’t there when she owned the home on Riverside Drive in the small community south of Sarnia.

“I’m too fussy, I’m too clean for that to have been on the door,” she replied.

Power also recalled meeting Trowbridge and VanHuizen as they viewed her home in November 2020 shortly before they made an offer. VanHuizen loved it, she recalled, but a quiet Trowbridge wasn’t as excited.

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“’I will miss my three-car garage,’” is the only thing she remembered him saying.

Sarnia murder trial
Shawn Trowbridge and Cheryl VanHuizen were in a common-law relationship for about seven years before VanHuizen was found dead in their Corunna home on Dec. 31, 2020. Trowbridge pleaded not guilty on Nov. 14, 2023 to first-degree murder, kicking off what’s expected to be a six-week trial. (Facebook)

Daryl Mayers was the next person called to the stand Tuesday. An expert Crown witness, Mayers works in the toxicology department at the Center of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, where he focuses on alcohol, drugs and poisons.

According to reports he filed in early 2021, VanHuizen had around 161 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood, about double the driving limit in Canada.

“This person would have an impact on their skillset for complex activities,” he said while speaking in generalities.

The trial previously heard VanHuizen and Trowbridge were drinking on Dec. 30, 2020, as they hosted Trowbridge’s children and grandchildren during a family Christmas party.

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There also were three drugs found in VanHuizen’s system, but all considered in the therapeutic range: Zopiclone, a sleeping pill, codeine, an opioid used to treat pain, and Nortriptyline, an antidepressant. Additionally, Mayers found traces of cocaine and a small amount of benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine created in the body after use of the drug.

Based on the 0.27 milligrams of benzoylecgonine found it wasn’t clear when the cocaine was used, potentially the night she died or 1.5 days earlier, he explained to the jury.

“We know there was some cocaine used,” he said.

Testing also found cocaethylene, formed by the liver when alcohol and cocaine are taken together, phenacetin, a cutting agent sometimes used in cocaine, and acetaminophen, a common pain reliever.

“All these drugs may not have been taken separately,” Mayers said.

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Tyler MacDonald focused on how tolerance is different from person to person – Mayers compared it to a dimmer switch as opposed to a light switch – and how central nervous system depressants can affect co-ordination, potentially causing a person to bump into things.

“It could definitely have an impact on walking,” Mayers said.

The trial will continue on Wednesday.

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