Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Stop-go murder trial: Defence to call 10 witnesses

Quinton Paul Winders. PHOTO/FILE
Quinton Paul Winders. PHOTO/FILE

The lawyer for murder accused Quinton Winders has revealed he will call 10 witnesses next week, as the Crown case concluded.

Winders, 45, has denied murdering Mr Taiaroa, 65, who was shot dead while operating a stop-go sign at roadworks in Atiamuri, north of Taupo, in 2013.

The Crown called its final witness today, almost four weeks into the trial in the High Court at Rotorua.

In his opening address to the jury this afternoon, defence lawyer Jonathan Temm said the defence evidence would focus on two aspects of the Crown's case - the minor crash on March 12, 2013 and the propensity evidence suggesting Winders had the tendency to respond irrationally to minor irritation.

The Crown claims it was the minor crash a week prior to the shooting that was the catalyst for Winders returning to kill Mr Taiaroa.

However Mr Temm has said there was no motive for Winders to kill Mr Taiaroa, and claims the crash lay behind it were spurious.

The propensity evidence was given by Stratford farmer and hunter Nigel Ford who told the court he was shot at by someone from the direction of Winders' farm, four years before Mr Taiaroa was killed.

In relation to this Mr Temm said he would be calling witnesses confronted by Winders and asked the jury to pay attention to his client's behaviour and reactions.

At the end of his address Mr Temm had one request for the jurors.

"Even now, even after four weeks of Crown evidence, I ask you to keep an open mind."

Earlier the Crown called its final witness, the officer in charge of the investigation into Mr Taiaroa's death - Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson.

Mr Anderson was questioned by Crown Solicitor Amanda Gordon about the investigation, including how police decided on suspects and how information was prioritised.

Mr Anderson said within the first 48 hours police knew they were looking for a dark coloured Jeep Cherokee - specifically blue.

He said initially the investigation "cast the net very wide to gather as many people in that pool and from there continue to narrow down based on the evidence gathered".

Mr Anderson said no information gathered from the 0800 police information line was "written off".

"Any information that comes through is prioritised then inquired and investigated."

During cross-examination Mr Temm claimed the reckless driving Winders was arrested for on April 4, 2013 was used as an "opportunity to speak to [Winders]".

Mr Temm went on to assert the homicide investigation was the sole reason police wanted to speak to Winders and his arrest for reckless driving, for which he was never charged, was "just a means to an end".

"Of course we wanted to ask him about the homicide, to either rule him out or in. I understand the interview was stopped before the investigator could ask about the [reckless driving]," Mr Anderson replied.

The trial has been adjourned until Monday, when the first of the defence witnesses will be called.

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