Court hears recording of fight in murder case

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Audio of the moments leading up to Matthew McKinnon’s death played Wednesday in a Brockville courtroom as the case against his accused killer continued.

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Video surveillance from a nearby residential security camera captured audio of the alleged altercation between McKinnon and Ryan Ballantyne, the man charged with second-degree murder in his death.

Brockville Police Detective Graham Coe, lead investigator and forensic analyst in the case, said McKinnon’s death was not caught on camera, but the audio played for court was from of the incident that resulted in McKinnon’s death.

Within minutes, a taxi carrying McKinnon can be seen circling Ballantyne’s family home on Cedar Street near the Church Street intersection at approximately 9:45 p.m. on November 17, 2019.

After a few laps around the block, the taxi stopped and partial video showed what Coe described as McKinnon exiting the vehicle and walking towards the Cedar Street home. A loud altercation was captured on audio, but the rest of the incident was not captured on video as it took place out of camera range.

Much of what was said during the dispute was unintelligible, but the name “Ryan” was clearly shouted by several people, the courtroom heard.

The 911 call was also broadcast. The caller said there was “blood everywhere” and McKinnon was not moving or breathing. Police and paramedics arrived minutes after the call but were unable to save McKinnon, who suffered significant blood loss and died minutes after being stabbed.

Ballantyne pleaded not guilty to the charge. He was 34 when he was arrested by city police in the early morning hours of November 18, 2019.

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In his opening remarks on Monday, Crown Attorney Alan Findlay claimed that McKinnon had taken a taxi from his home in Prescott with the intention of fighting Ballantyne.

Text messages between the pair leading up to the altercation on Wednesday showed there were several attempts by McKinnon to call his ex-wife on the night of November 17, as well as a brief text message argument. between the two.

A heated exchange of text messages between the victim and the accused also suggested a tumultuous past history between them.

The court saw a lengthy, often one-sided conversation between McKinnon and Ballantyne, during which the victim repeatedly texted and attempted to call Ballantyne via Facebook Messenger. Ballantyne responded sporadically and infrequently.

During their exchange, McKinnon texted Ballantyne daring him to fight, the court heard, after which McKinnon took a taxi to Brockville and arrived on Cedar Street.

Investigators found a gun under the front passenger seat of the taxi McKinnon took from Prescott to Brockville, along with pepper spray, McKinnon’s cell phone, a golf pencil and a piece of crumpled aluminum foil , the court heard.

The defendant had what Findlay had previously described as “a back-and-forth relationship” with McKinnon’s wife. She and McKinnon had separated in May of that year and they have a son together.

Ballantyne’s head was low for much of the proceedings, his long beard partially covered by a mask.

Superior Court Justice John M. Johnston hears the case.

The trial resumes Thursday.

About Ethel Nester

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