THUNDER BAY - After some delays and procedural arguments, the first day of testimony in the extortion trial against former Thunder Bay Mayor, Keith Hobbs, his wife Marissa, and local resident Mary Voss, wrapped up in a Thunder Bay courtroom on Monday, with details revealed about interactions between the accused and the alleged victim.
It is alleged that the three accused attempted to extort the victim into purchasing a house worth more than $400,000 for Voss with video evidence of a crime.
The trial opened on Monday with an opening statement from Crown attorney, Peter Keen. He called Craig Loverin, who knows the victim, as his first witness to testify Monday morning. There was some disagreement on the part of Keen and Brian Greenspan, who is representing Keith and Marissa Hobbs, regarding the witness referring to notes.
Keen asked that Loverin be permitted to refer to written notes, while Greenspan disagreed and said Loverin should be required to rely on his memory.
Justice Fletcher Dawson agreed with Greenspan, advising Keen that he does not want Loverin to be a ‘scripted witness.’ It was agreed by both members of counsel to permit Loverin to refer to his notes to remember specific dates of incidents.
During his testimony, Loverin was asked about the victim’s mental state during the period of October and November 2016.
Loverin testified the victim had started drinking heavily during this time, as well as exhibiting sporadic behavior and growing paranoia.
There were also concerns on the part of the victim that a former business associate may want to hurt or kill him and wanting Loverin to act as a bodyguard.
Details regarding Voss’s connection to the victim and tensions that existed were also explored, including verbal arguments and possible physical altercations between the two.
Loverin was also asked about any possible interactions between the Hobbs’ and the victim prior to October 2016, the time the alleged extortion is said to have taken place. Loverin said he was not aware of any interactions before that time and he recounted how he came to meet Keith and Marissa Hobbs.
According to Loverin’s testimony, he first met Marissa Hobbs at the victim’s residence on an occasion the victim had gone missing on Oct. 25.
Loverin added he believed the Hobbs’ were spending more time with victim in October 2016 based on instances when he heard they were together.
One such incident occurred in late October during which a video was filmed in the victim’s residence where Keith and Marissa Hobbs were present.
Loverin said his first interaction with Hobbs came during a phone call the night the Hobbs’ were at the victim’s home during which Hobbs told Loverin he helped train the Joint Task Force in Southern Ontario.
“I thought it was an awkward conversation,” Loverin testified. “I couldn’t judge Keith’s state of sobriety, but it sounded like (the victim) had been drinking that night.”
Loverin is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday.
There is a publication ban in place to protect the identity of the victim.