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An Ontario Court judge denied a request for further examination of the relationship between the only defence witness in a murder trial and two teenage sisters accused of killing their mother, saying it would serve only to portray their relationship as even more "unwholesome."

The two sisters, 18 and 19, have pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder. Because both were minors when their mother died, their names -- and the names of witnesses -- cannot be published.

On the last day before closing arguments in the judge-only trial, Judge Bruce Duncan declined a request by the prosecution to bring 10 people before the Brampton court in a bid to rebut the testimony of the defence witness.

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The witness was a neighbour of the Mississauga woman who was found dead, facedown in her bathtub on the evening of Jan. 18, 2003. He testified on Tuesday that the woman was at his door three hours after the time Crown prosecutors say she was drugged and drowned by her daughters.

The Crown asked to call the witnesses to reinforce its argument that the testimony of the 46-year-old neighbour was biased. Judge Duncan said the man's affection for the defendants and the defendants' father is on the record, and further testimony would use "too much time, in proportion to its value."

Pathology evidence previously heard in court stated that the woman died between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., hours before the neighbour said she appeared on his doorstep, drunk, at about 9 o'clock.

Under cross-examination Tuesday, the witness admitted to confusing times and dates, but assured the court that it was "dark" when he talked to the woman.

The Crown told the court yesterday that darkness fell at 5:43 p.m. on the day in question.

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