He hid her body after `accident' because he wanted
to be buried with her, trial told
A veteran Toronto police officer
looked on "in horror" when his long-time mistress
fell backwards on the stairs of his house, banged
her head on the floor and died, a jury in Newmarket
has been told.
Richard Wills is innocent of
first-degree murder in the 2002 death of Linda
Mariani, and the 25-year veteran of the force plans
to testify that his "soulmate for life" died
accidentally, his lawyer, Raj Napal, said in his
opening address to the jury.
Then, acting "irrationally ... not
like a police officer but a human being," Wills
sealed her body up in a garbage bin and hid it
behind a wall in his Richmond Hill house, where the
remains stayed for four months before being found by
police after Wills turned himself in, said Napal.
Wills hid the body because the two
had a "love pact" that when they died they would be
buried together, said Napal as Wills, who has since
retired from the force, looked on.
In his opening address, prosecutor
Jeffrey Pearson said Wills had complained to a
police colleague that while he had left his wife,
Mariani wouldn't leave her husband. The two had been
having an affair for nearly nine years, court heard.
Among the 30 witnesses that the
Crown will call will be forensic experts who opened
the sealed container that had been sheathed in a
plastic tarp. They also found a skipping rope
wrapped three times around the neck of the
40-year-old bookkeeper. An autopsy showed she had
died from a fractured skull, said Pearson.
Along with her purse, a pager and
cellphone – both items had the batteries removed –
forensic specialists also found an aluminum
"Louisville Slugger" bat inside the container, said
Pearson. Receipts show Wills had bought the garbage
can, the tarp and caulking eight days before Mariani
disappeared, said Pearson.
Soon after she disappeared, Wills
"took advantage of his position as a police officer"
and got officers with the Ontario Provincial Police
to go to her parents' cottage in Wasaga Beach to
hunt for her, said Pearson.
Pearson said the jurors will hear
how Wills "lied" to the York Region police
detectives who were hunting for the missing woman in
a bid to "deflect the investigation away from
himself and on to an innocent man," Mariani's
husband of 17 years, Dominic. The couple had one
Wills tried to implicate Mariani's
husband more than 15 times, at one point suggesting
that he had poisoned his wife, said Pearson.
But in the months after her
disappearance, "the evidence will show that the
walls were closing in on Richard Wills," said
Pearson. "It was becoming impossible to conceal the
fact that he had a corpse hidden behind his wall."
When Wills surrendered to police in
June 2002, they went to his house and found the
container with Mariani's body at the foot of the
basement stairs, said Pearson.
"After you have heard all the
evidence, we are confident that you will conclude
that Richard Wills struck Linda Mariani in the back
of the head with the aluminum bat ... strangled her
with the skipping rope until it snapped, dumped her
body head first into the garbage can ... and hid it
behind the false wall in his basement," said
The trial continues today.