TROIS-RIVIÈRES, QUE. -- At around 1:40 a.m., Richard Samson heard someone ring his doorbell. It was the stepmother of the seven-year-old child next door who was looking for the girl she said had "escaped."

Samson testified at the Trois-Rivières courthouse Monday the woman was shaken and sounded both angry and frustrated. As they looked around, he heard sounds coming from the bushes, and saw the girl in the arms of a man.

The man can't be identified, but Samsom said the girl was crying. The man, the child, and the stepmother went back home.

Less than 10 hours later, an ambulance was called because the girl was no longer breathing. The prosecution claimed the mother had used adhesive tape to tie up the child.

The witness testified he rarely saw the neighbour's children play outside. In his opinion, they were not allowed, even if they had a large backyard and a swing set. The curtains and blinds, he said, were always closed.

The 38-year-old step-mother is charged with second-degree murder and unlawful confinment, but a court order at her trial prevents the media from naming any members of the family.

The next witness will testify behind closed doors, meaning everyone except the jury will have to leave the courtroom.