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'Overwhelming evidence' against accused Surrey Six killers: Crown

The Surrey Six murder trial has heard "overwhelming evidence" that Red Scorpion gangsters Cody Haevischer and Matt Johnston were involved in the Oct. 19, 2007 slayings, Crown Mark Levitz said Wednesday.
Crown lawyer Mark Levitz and his team leaving court after Day 3 of the Surrey Six trial at the Supreme Court in Vancouver on October 2, 2013. Levitz handed Justice Catherine Wedge five binders laying out the Crown's closing submissions on Wednesday.

The Surrey Six murder trial has heard "overwhelming evidence" that Red Scorpion gangsters Cody Haevischer and Matt Johnston were involved in the Oct. 19, 2007 slayings, Crown Mark Levitz said Wednesday.

Levitz said a "powerful body of circumstantial evidence" — from the testimony of 73 witnesses to surveillance video both before and after the slaughter — "proves beyond a reasonable doubt" the two accused killers are guilty.

He told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge that while neither Haevischer nor Johnston had a "personal beef" with rival trafficker Corey Lal, both participated in a plot to kill him out of loyalty to their gang.

"Jamie Bacon, one of the leaders of the Red Scorpions, imposed a tax on Corey Lal which he failed to pay, so Bacon ordered Mr. Lal's execution because if nothing was done, it would make the Red Scorpions look weak," Levitz said as he began his final submissions.

"Haevischer and Johnston participated in this because they are Red Scorpions."

Levitz said the accused, who were like brothers, went to Surrey's Balmoral Tower about 2:30 p.m. that day along with another gang member who can only be identified as Person X.

While the three were hunting Lal, they also ended up killing possible witnesses — Lal's brother Michael, associates Eddie Narong and Ryan Bartolomeo, as well as uninvolved bystanders Ed Schellenberg and Chris Mohan.

Levitz said the Crown has established the motive for the murders through the testimony of key witnesses, including gang founder Michael Le, who was initially charged alongside Haevischer and Johnston but pleaded guilty to conspiracy after the trial had begun.

Le described how Bacon wanted Lal dead and how Le himself eventually signed off on the plot.

Levitz said another critical part of the Crown's case is surveillance video from an unrelated drug investigation at the Stanley apartment building in Surrey, where Haevischer and his girlfriend lived at the time of the murders.

The Surrey RCMP video, as well as building security cameras, captured Person X, Johnston and Haevischer leaving the Stanley wearing hoodies and gloves right before the murders, then returning less than an hour later, Levitz noted.

"The final body of evidence establishing identity is through the admissions of both Haevischer and Johnston with respect to their involvements in the murders," Levitz said.

He cited testimony from Le, another former Red Scorpion dubbed Person Y and from Haevischer's girlfriend, who can only be identified as KM.

Le testified that both Haevischer and Johnston described details of what happened to him after the murders.

KM testified that Haevischer wrote on a white board that "six people died" and that she helped clean guns before the slayings and destroyed a bag of evidence afterwards.

Person Y captured Johnston on wiretaps making incriminating statements about what happened.

Y, who admitted to two unrelated murders, should be believed despite his criminal history because he came clean about his past and is spending the rest of his life in jail, Levitz said.

"He was totally open about what he did, about what a monster he was all those years, about the people he killed, about the people he hurt. There was no holding back. This is not a witness who is trying to make himself look good at all. And that is significant," Levitz said.

Much of Y's testimony can be independently corroborated by other evidence called by the Crown, said Levitz.

He said both Haevischer and Johnston were not only guilty of murder, but also of conspiracy to murder Corey Lal.

"One cannot get around the fact that the object of the conspiracy was achieved because there is no doubt in this case that Corey Lal was one of the six victims who was executed to death in suite 1505 on October the 19th," Levitz said.

The Crown is expected to complete final submissions Friday before defence lawyers present their arguments next week.

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