Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Friend of man accused in Mad Cowz murder trial testifies

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A man accused of brutally murdering two Winnipeg street gang associates called a friend to confess and seek help and advice about what to do after committing the crimes, a jury heard Thursday.

Philip Jason "Jay" Asham, 38, testified Thursday morning at Kenneth Toby Roulette's ongoing first-degree murder trial.

Roulette has pleaded not guilty to viciously stabbing and beating 23-year-old Mad Cowz members Jessie Henderson and Dennis Baptiste to death inside 729 Maryland St. early on Jan. 31, 2009. He is presumed innocent.

Asham became the first of the Crown's witnesses so far to provide any substantial link between Roulette and the homicides.

Asham himself is a former high-ranking gang member and crack cocaine dealer. He said he and Roulette were friends and he got a call from him around 4-5 a.m. while Asham, his then-girlfriend and a male friend were shopping at an all-night Wal-Mart.

It was the second time that night he heard from Roulette, he said, having received an earlier call from him on Henderson's phone where he said he was at the Maryland Street address.

"He just told me he murked (murdered) two guys," said Asham. "He just said he murked them, that he needed my help." Roulette was acting paranoid, he added. "(He) thought they were plotting against them or something."

Roulette asked for his help "dispatching" the bodies, said Asham. "He told me to come to the back of the Maryland party — the back lane."

Asham told court he wanted nothing to do with any homicide and was "choked" at the fact Roulette would ask him for assistance — especially over the phone. "You don't talk over the phone about stuff like that," he said. At first he thought Roulette was joking, but came to understand he wasn't.

Roulette was being "dead straight," said Asham. "'I need your f----- help,'" he says Roulette said. "I think he said he shanked them — stabbed them."

He did offer advice to Roulette, he said, in an effort to get him off the phone. One thing discussed was to start a fire as one way to destroy evidence.

When officers turned up at 729 Maryland St. around 10:25 a.m. and discovered the bodies of the slain men, a fire was smouldering on the kitchen stove, court previously heard.

It wasn't until March 2010 — and after several visits by police — that Asham agreed to give a statement. At the time he was facing charges, but said police promised him no guarantees in return for speaking with them.

Asham is also currently facing fraud allegations. He will face cross-examination this afternoon.

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