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Second-degree murder trial against Patrick O’Keese underway

O’Keese is charged with second-degree murder following the death of 18-year-old Brayden Moonias in 2017
Marina Park Scene 3
Thunder Bay Police on the scene in the area near Marina Park where the body of 18-year-old Brayden Moonias was found on Aug. 6, 2017. (File).

THUNDER BAY - Four years after the body of 18-year-old Brayden Moonias was discovered on a beach near Prince Arthur’s landing, the man accused of being responsible for his death is standing trial for second-degree murder.

A trial against Patrick O’Keese, 26, opened in a Thunder Bay Courtroom on Monday, with one of the lead investigators taking the stand to testify.

O’Keese was first charged in September 2017 with second-degree murder and aggravated assault after Moonias’ body was found on the morning of Aug. 6, 2017 on a beach just beyond the overpass leading to Prince Arthur’s landing. A second individual was also found in the area and transported to hospital with serious injuries.

On Monday, O’Keese was arraigned on the charge of second-degree murder and two counts of failing to comply with recognizance, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Crown attorney, Jane Ann McGill, called to testify Sgt. Clark McKever of the Thunder Bay Police Service, who was one of the lead investigators into the death of Moonias.

Throughout his testimony, McKever discussed video surveillance evidence captured at various locations throughout the downtown north core the night prior to the discovery of Moonias’ body.

Video surveillance showed both O’Keese and Moonias together in the lobby and elevator of Cumberland Street apartment building in the early evening hours of Aug. 5. O’Keese was later seen on video surveillance alone at the Beer Store on North Cumberland Street.

The next morning O’Keese was seen on Thunder Bay Transit video boarding a bus in the Algoma Street and John Street area and again at Thunder Bay city hall terminal. He was also seen at the John Howard Society, where he resided, but was no longer wearing a t-shirt he had been observed wearing the previous evening.

During cross-examination, defense counsel Kevin Matthews, questioned McKever on the initial stages of the investigation and how evidence was collected, particularly questioning individuals who may have been in the area where Moonias was located.

Matthews focused on one individual who said he was in the area with Moonias, but according to McKever, the statements could not be verified and the individual was not considered to be credible because he admitted to lying and was not sure of the specific day he was with Moonias.

McKever added that there was not enough trustworthy evidence to receive a DNA sample from the individual through a warrant but Matthew pointed out that he was the only one interviewed to request an attorney.

Requesting an attorney during questioning is not out of the ordinary, McKever said, adding during re-examination by the Crown that no other person interviewed put that specific individual in the same area as Moonias the night of Aug. 5.

Others in the area told police that voices could be heard coming from the beach throughout the evening, to which McKever replied that it could have been possible that even if other people were on the same beach, they may have thought Moonias was sleeping, as those who discovered his body the next morning initially believed that to be the case.  

Matthews also raised the fact that Moonias had suffered a stab wound to the arm only a few weeks prior to his death and asked McKever if the two incidents could be connected and the person responsible for the stabbing also being responsible for his murder.

McKever said he did communicate with investigators looking into the stabbing incident but was not part of the investigation itself.

“It sounds to me like you had your sights set on one person fairly early on in this investigation,” Matthews said, referring to O’Keese.

“Not at all,” McKever said. “There was no target set on anybody, we let the evidence drive the investigation.”

The trial will continue on Tuesday and is scheduled for 10 days.  

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