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Witnesses who rendered first aid testify at Sweeney murder trial

Jury hears from two women who attempted to help murder victim Renée Sweeney minutes after she was stabbed on day three of the second-degree murder trial of Robert Steven Wright
Adults Only Video was located at 1500 Paris Street. It was the site of the Jan. 27, 1998 murder of Renée Sweeney. The second-degree murder trial against Robert Steven Wright, her accused killer, began Feb. 21, 2023

Testimony heard in Sudbury court today came from the two women who tried to provide aid to Renée Sweeney after she was stabbed to death on Jan. 27, 1998. 

It was emotional testimony that came in the afternoon of Feb. 27 on the third day of the trial of Robert Steven Wright, the man charged with the second-degree murder of Sweeney. It began later than usual due to a morning of attorney submissions. 

The jury heard from two witnesses, Dr. Krista Jonas and Carol Gosselin.

Gosselin had been an employee at Country Bagel, a coffee shop in the same 1500 Paris Street plaza as the now-closed Adults Only Video where Sweeney worked and where she was killed. 

Gosselin knew Sweeney as she was a regular customer of the shop. She was very emotional on the stand as she spoke of the events of that day 25 years ago, her voice cracking and tears in her eyes. She steadied herself continually as she was shown the crime scene photos from inside the store. 

Gosselin was at work that day, having arrived at 6:30 a.m. for a 7 a.m. opening. There was a new employee who arrived for training, as well as another employee, ‘Sue,’ who arrived for her shift at 10 a.m.

A witness from Feb. 24 testified that after she and her fiance first discovered Sweeney and the man who rushed past them out the door, she ran to the Country Bagel to ask them to call 911. 

Gosselin testified she was having her lunch at 11:30 when Friday’s witness entered and asked ‘Sue’ to call for help. Sue informed Gosselin, and Gosselin followed the witness back outside, asking what happened. 

When she was informed, she immediately thought of “Renée” she said, and ran to the store. She was alone as she walked in and called twice for Sweeney, Gosselin testified. She heard nothing and went further in. That is when she found her. 

Gosselin testified she went back to the bagel shop to inform her boss, ran to her car to get her first aid kit and ran back to the video store. She entered and someone followed her. 

That person was Jonas, an emergency room doctor at Sudbury Memorial Hospital at the time, who went out for a walk to get “fresh air and bagels.” 

Jonas told the court that it was her day off, and she had gone for a walk, heading to the bagel shop. While she was inside, “there was a commotion,” she said, and someone came into the bagel shop saying someone had been hurt. 

Jonas ran from the shop and met with Gosselin, and the two went inside the video store.

“I remember thinking someone had been injured and could I help,” said Jonas. “I ran up to the  X-rated video store, and we heard someone say they saw someone running away with a blue bag. We went to see if anything happened and if there was anything we could do,” she said. 

She said she entered and saw movies “strewn about” but that she couldn’t see the victim at first, not until she went to look behind the counter, where Sweeney was found. 

She testified that she looked around the immediate area for something to cover her hand, a makeshift glove, a move she said was instinctive. She found a plastic bag, put it over her hand, and checked for a pulse. 

“I attended to the person behind the counter, but I could not establish vital signs,” said Jonas. “Her eyes were fixed and dilated; there was no carotid pulse.” 

She testified that Sweeney was still warm to the touch. but there was a big pool of blood around her. She said she considered what she could do. 

“I was really feeling like there wasn’t anything that would have helped her,” Jonas testified.

Both Gosselin and Jonas were asked by Crown Attorney Rob Parsons if they touched or moved anything in the store, which they said they did not. Gosselin said she did approach the phone to see if she could call the owner of the store, but it was off the hook.  

When defense co-counsel Bryan Badali took his turn asking questions, he focussed on Sweeney’s body, and whether Jonas or Gosselin had repositioned it at all to assist in lifesaving measures. Gosselin said no; Jonas said she touched nothing as she was focused on the victim, and that she had no need to reposition her. 

Jonas was then shown photos of Sweeney as she lay dead behind the counter. 

“That’s the scene I remember behind the counter when I went to see if I could help,” she told the court. 

When asked to relate what contact she may have had with the body, she noted checking both sides of the neck for a pulse and putting her hand on Sweeney’s chest to check for movement as well as palpating her chest. Jonas testified that when paramedics arrived, she used their stethoscope to check for vitals once again, finding none. 

She told the court, “My instinct is not to move a person in a trauma, I wouldn’t have and I don’t remember moving her.”

Gosselin testified that she used paper towels and material from the first aid kit to apply pressure to Sweeney’s wounds. She testified that paramedics and Jonas pronounced Sweeney’s death at 11:44 a.m. 

The trial resumes in Sudbury court Feb. 28 at 10 a.m.

You can find recaps of the previous testimonies, here and here

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter at


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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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