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Salesman portrayed as jilted ex who killed wife, second woman Add to ...

Chris Little tracked his former wife with a GPS device. His cellphone contained photos of her new boyfriend's key ring. He even bought a product called Check Mate from a spy store to test her clothing for semen, a jury heard.

As Mr. Little's much-anticipated trial began yesterday, the Crown painted the 37-year-old Toronto-area fibreglass salesman as a jilted, obsessed ex-husband who killed his ex-wife and a second woman, then made a clumsy attempt to portray it as a murder-suicide.

Mr. Little is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his former wife, Julie Crocker, and Paula Menendez of Toronto.

Ms. Crocker, a 33-year-old advertising executive and mother of Mr. Little's two young daughters, was found lying beside her bed in her Markham home with her throat cut on Feb. 12, 2007.

On the floor of Ms. Crocker's garage was the body of Ms. Menendez, 34, a physiotherapist found choked to death in what police almost instantly concluded was a staged hanging.

The two women are believed to have met just once. What they shared were romantic ties to popular Toronto sportscaster Rick Ralph, who will testify as a prosecution witness.

Mr. Little's anger was all about rejection, the jury was told. "On the floor of the bed where Julie Crocker was killed, the police found a crumpled photograph of her with Rick Ralph," co-prosecutor Michael Demczur said.

"The photograph shows Julie kissing Rick in front of a pool in St. Lucia ... Chris's therapist will testify that Chris told her that the day Julie left for St. Lucia was the worst day of his life."

The prosecution theory is a tale of four players connected tangentially by two failed marriages.

Ms. Menendez and Mr. Ralph were married for about three years before they parted amicably, the jury heard. After that, Mr. Ralph began dating Ms. Crocker.

Mr. Little and Ms. Crocker, meanwhile, had been married for close to 10 years when they separated, a few months before the killings.

The couple's two young children were found unharmed when York Regional Police and paramedics rushed to the Crocker home in response to a 911 call made by Mr. Little, alerting them to an apparent murder-suicide.

"Chris Little told the operator he had just arrived there and found a dead woman hanging from the rafters in his garage, that he had cut her down and that he didn't know who she was," the jury heard.

But when police later examined Mr. Little's computer, the jury also heard, they discovered a downloaded map with a red star directly over Ms. Menendez's Etobicoke house.

Mr. Little was arrested at the crime scene and charged later the same day. He has been in custody ever since.

The prosecution alleges he abducted Ms. Menendez from her home and transported her more than 45 kilometres to the house on Markham's Larkin Avenue he once shared with Ms. Crocker. He murdered both women in a ruse designed to suggest Ms. Menendez killed Ms. Crocker in a fit of jealousy over Mr. Ralph, and then took her own life, the Crown alleges.

As the trial began, every seat in the courtroom was taken. Ms. Menendez's parents were there, as was Ms. Crocker's mother. Mr. Little's parents, too, listened attentively, as their son, a stocky figure with thinning hair, clad in a dark suit and a tie, sat at a small table taking occasional notes.

He is expected to testify, something defendants rarely do in murder trials.

Ms. Crocker's throat was "cut from the left ear to the right clavicle," Mr. Demczur said. "She also had defensive wounds to her hands and a puncture wound to her face ..."

Ms. Menendez died as a result of ligature strangulation, he said, "as distinct from hanging."

Among the first prosecution witnesses was Ms. Menendez's twin sister, Carolina Stubbs, who gave birth to a son on the same day her sister was slain.

If defence lawyer John Rosen's strategy is to persuade the jury that Ms. Crocker may have been murdered by Ms. Menendez out of jealousy over her ex-husband, Mr. Ralph, Ms. Stubbs's evidence was clearly designed to show otherwise.

She told Crown co-counsel Douglas Kasko that while Ms. Menendez was "sad" for a while about the breakup, it was, in fact, her decision to end the marriage.

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