Witness grilled by defence during Chatham murder trial

The Ontario Supreme Court of Justice in Chatham, seen on March 18, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

A witness and a longtime friend of a man who was killed in Chatham nearly two years ago was in the hot seat on day four of the trial for the accused.

Kyle Samko’s defence lawyer Luigi Perzia peppered witness Matthew Suitor with questions during his cross examination at the Superior Court in Chatham on Thursday and suggested that he was part of a plan to rob his client, something Suitor denied.

“I’m going to suggest you set Mr. Samko up for a robbery,” said Perzia. “You turned a blind eye. You were part of this plan.”

Samko, 28, of Sarnia is charged with second degree murder in the death of Manny da Silva, 35, in June of 2021 outside Suitor’s former house on St. George Street near Park Avenue in Chatham.

The court heard that Suitor and Samko went grocery shopping the day da Silva was killed and Samko pushed a cart full of groceries back to Suitor’s former house while Suitor went to visit two other friends. Suitor testified that he would meet Samko back at the house later.

Suitor said he didn’t have his house keys and had to enter the house through a back window to let Samko in when he saw da Silva armed with a hammer and another masked man, identified as Dustin Hall, jump his backyard fence, rush him, and tell Suitor that they weren’t there for him, but for Samko. He claims not to know Hall or remember doing fentanyl with Hall.

Perzia also questioned Suitor about why he decided to tie up his dog instead of de-escalating the situation and following da Silva, who was going after Samko with a hammer. Suitor said he didn’t follow da Silva because the masked man stayed with him and told da Silva not to go after Samko.

“Your priority was to tie up your dog?” asked Perzia.

Surveillance video shown in court on Thursday taken from a gas station across the street showed the entire attack. It showed Samko in front of Suitor’s house, da Silva coming from the side of the house, an altercation between the two men, and da Silva going down after a jabbing motion to da Silva’s chest by Samko. It also showed da Silva falling on his back with his legs in the air kicking and never getting back up.

Suitor told the court that Samko stayed at his house for a couple of nights because he didn’t have anywhere else to go, adding the two started that day in question with Samko looking to buy drugs from da Silva’s girlfriend. When asked by the defence if his house was a trap house, a place where illegal drugs are sold, Suitor responded no.

Suitor changed his story a few times because he said he was a drug addict at that time and things were a blur. He told the court that he was at the grocery checkout when Samko paid for the $400 worth of groceries, but later admitted that he was mistaken when the defence threatened to show the surveillance video of the grocery checkout with no Suitor in sight.

He also said he didn’t know if Samko actually had drugs because he stayed outside when Samko went into da Silva’s girlfriend’s house to buy some, adding he also didn’t know how much money Samko had.

Chatham-Kent police detective and lead investigator Cole Abbott testified that officers recovered a bloody claw hammer from the scene and dog repellent with blood on it, adding there was a lot of blood at the scene.

Samko left the scene of the crime and was arrested two days later.

The trial resumes on Monday.