Sherbrooke Quebed - The 31st, and last, Crown witness in the trial for the three men charged with criminal negligence causing death in connection the Lake Megantic rail disaster finished his testimony at the Sherbrooke courthouse Tuesday.
Randy Stahl, a former Montreal Maine & Atlantic (MMA) locomotive mechanic based in Derby, Maine, stood in the witness box addressing Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas and the jury in a hushed, barely audible voice.
Stahl, the only American to testify in the trial so far, described his responsibilities as supervisor of the maintenance shop where the MMA locomotives used to be repaired and maintained before a 74 car fuel train derailed and exploded, setting downtown Lake Megantic ablaze in the early hours of 6 Jul 2013.
Stahl told the court he trained the mechanics who repaired locomotives at the shop in Derby and worked alongside them.
He said his employees worked from 06:30 until 14:30, but he was available around the clock to speak with locomotive engineers on both sides of the border about mechanical issues and help them find solutions.
Maintenance Shop Closed July 4
Under cross-examination by Demaitre's lawyer, Gaetan Bourassa, Stahl told the court the shop had been closed for Independence Day on 4 Jul 2013, two days before the rail disaster.
Earlier in the trial, former MMA locomotive engineer Francois Daigle testified he'd driven the ill-fated lead locomotive 5017 on 4 Jul 2013, two days before it was involved in the derailment.
Daigle told the court he'd reported mechanical problems to Demaitre, his boss, and sent a fax to the Derby maintenance shop to alert them to the issue.
Defence to Decide if it Will Present a Case
With the Crown's evidence now complete, it is now the turn of defence lawyers to present witnesses, beginning with Demaitre's lawyer, Bourassa.
However, Bourassa has asked Justice Dumas for a few days to reflect on whether his client wants to present a case.
"The Crown has burden of proof, not the defence," Dumas reminded the jury.
"Nor is the defence obliged to present a case," he said, adding, "it's a decision that each party must take in an enlightened way. There are three defences possible, and I want you to draw no inference on whether they decide to present a defence or not."
The jurors have been told to return to the Sherbrooke courthouse Monday, unless they receive a phone call beforehand telling them otherwise.