The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Defence says Crown has failed to prove murder plot at B.C. gang trial

  • Print

VANCOUVER - The Crown has failed to prove a mass shooting near Vancouver that killed six people, including two innocent bystanders, was the culmination of a gang plot to murder a rival drug trafficker, a defence lawyer said Thursday.

Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston are on trial for conspiracy and six counts of first-degree murder for the shooting in a highrise condo in Surrey, B.C., in October 2007.

The Crown alleges the Red Scorpions gang plotted to kill a rival drug trafficker named Corey Lal and that five other people were killed to eliminate potential witnesses. The Crown contends Haevischer, Johnston and a third man known only as Person X carried out the murders.

But lawyer Michael Tammen, who represents Johnston, says the Crown has failed to prove its conspiracy theory, let alone that his client was involved in hatching any plot or that he was involved in the killings.

Tammen said the only evidence to support the alleged plot comes from two former gangsters who cannot be trusted: former Red Scorpions leader Michael Le, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy midway through the trial as part of a deal with the Crown, and a witness known only as Person Y, an admitted killer who told the court he was involved in the conspiracy.

"Was there a conspiracy to kill Corey Lal? To get to the answer you really must look to the evidence of (Person Y) and Michael Le," Tammen told a B.C. Supreme Court judge as he presented his final submissions.

"Our fundamental position is that those witnesses are so untrustworthy as to be unworthy of belief. You should simply find the Crown has failed to prove the existence of a conspiracy."

Even if there was a conspiracy to target Lal, Tammen said the trial has heard little evidence to suggest Johnston was involved in hatching it.

He also suggested that if there was a plot, it may have been to rob Lal rather than to kill him.

Tammen said Person Y and Le both testified that the alleged conspiracy, at least at some point, involved robbing Lal.

Tammen noted there is evidence that drugs, money and cellphones were taken from the scene, adding to the possibility that what happened actually started as a robbery.

Person Y told the court he gave Person X a gun shortly before the murders, and the court also heard Person Y's DNA was found at the murder scene

Tammen said it didn't make any sense that Person Y would hand over a gun that he knew could contain his DNA if he believed it would be used in a homicide. Person Y said he kept the small handgun gun inside his boxer shorts while working out at the gym.

"There does seem to be some evidence for the notion that at some point there was some sort of discussion or plan to rob Corey Lal," said Tammen.

Two of the victims had no connection to gangs or drugs: fireplace repairman Ed Schellenberg, 55, and Chris Mohan, 22, whose family lived across the hall from the murder scene.

The other victims were Lal, his brother Michael, Eddie Narong and Ryan Bartolomeo.

Le was sentenced to 12 years for conspiracy, which was reduced to three years after time served. He could be eligible for parole by the end of this year.

Alleged Red Scorpions co-leader Jamie Bacon is charged with conspiracy and one count of first-degree murder and is expected to stand trial later.

Person X pleaded guilty in 2009 to three counts of second-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.

Another man, Sophon Sek, is awaiting trial for manslaughter.

Follow @ByJamesKeller on Twitter

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Drew Willy says team couldn't get anything going

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google