Skip to main content

'Improper communication' delays start of Sudbury murder trial Monday


The start of a second-degree murder trial in Sudbury on Monday was delayed until the afternoon because of an attempt at “improper communication” with the jury.

Justice Robbie Gordon told jurors the delay was related to a matter that could potentially affect the fairness of the trial.

However, Gordon said it had been dealt with and wouldn’t affect their ability to continue.

“We’re still on track,” he said.

When the trial restarted in the mid-afternoon, a former Sudbury police forensics officer testified he took photos of blood in four spots in the snow outside the Adults Only Video store shortly after the murder of Renee Sweeney.

Rick Waugh, now retired, was testifying in the trial of Robert Steven Wright, who is charged in Sweeney’s Jan. 27, 1998, stabbing death.

She was a part-time clerk at the Paris Street store.

Sweeney’s body was discovered around 11:30 that morning. Waugh testified he heard about the case around 11:40 a.m. when he was still at police headquarters.

He recalled hearing “sirens coming from everywhere” before getting the call “to attend the scene at 1500 Paris St.” He got into the forensics van and was told en route to the scene that the victim had died.

Waugh said he arrived at noon and went inside to quickly assess the scene.

“I needed to know what happened,” he said.

Inside, he “saw the deceased behind the counter” and at some point, was informed there was blood outside the store. He immediately left the video store to collect the bloody snow.

“It was my (top) priority at that point,” Waugh said.

“I wanted to be sure it was recorded before it was lost.”

Outside, he said he saw blood on the sidewalk running in front of the strip mall. Blood was seen in the snow on the sidewalk between a pizza place and a jewelry store, as well as by the door of a cleaning place further up the strip mall.

Blood was also found in two spots in the parking lot just outside the door of the video store.

“It appeared to be blood,” Waugh said.

“At that time, I had no idea how it got there.”

At 12:47 p.m., he learned that the canine track had uncovered “a blood-stained jacket believed to belong to the suspect” in an area behind the mall.

He went there and took photos of the jacket, as well as a pair of gloves located in a ball nearby.

“They were white cotton garden gloves,” Waugh said.

He videotaped the scene and took photos of the items before anything was collected. The jacket and each glove were placed into paper bags.

He also recorded and photographed inside the store before collecting any evidence.

“The purpose is to show the scene as it was discovered by me,” Waugh said,

“Just to record the scene as found, originally, before any evidence is collected.”

The trial resumes Tuesday morning and will continue to provide updates as it continues. 

Find all of the Sweeney murder trial coverage here.


The brutal stabbing death of 23-year-old Renee Sweeney rocked the City of Sudbury to its core on Jan. 27, 1998.

Police searched for her killer for two decades and finally charged Robert Steven Wright, who was 18 years old at the time of the murder. He has been held in jail since his arrest in Dec. 2018.

After several delays, the trial began Feb. 21, 2023, just after the 25th anniversary of Sweeney's death.

CTV News Digital content producer Darren MacDonald is bringing the latest from the courtroom every day and will have full coverage of the trial here. Top Stories

Stay Connected