'Mr. Big' evidence useable in Whyte Ave. killing trial

An Edmonton judge has agreed to accept evidence from a sting in the case of Cliff Decoine-Zuniga, charged in the swarming death of Dylan McGillis in 2007.

An Edmonton judge has agreed to accept evidence from a so-called "Mr. Big" sting in the case of a man stabbed to death on Whyte Avenue six years ago.

Cliff Decoine-Zuniga is charged with manslaughter in the 2007 swarming death of Dylan McGillis.

Police staged an elaborate sting in which officers posed as members of a criminal gang in order to gain Decoine-Zuniga's trust — a procedure known as "Mr. Big."

The undercover officers kept almost daily contact with Decoine-Zuniga, trying to convince him they wanted him to join their underworld group.

Decoine-Zuniga was lured with trips to strip clubs, restaurants, a playoff hockey game in Vancouver, and being paid $13,000.

The accused admitted on video he was one of the men who attacked McGillis on the busy bar strip, beating and stomping the victim while his friend stabbed him.

Queen's Bench Justice John Gill ruled Friday that Decoine-Zuniga's rights were not violated during the three-month undercover operation. Gill said the accused's statements have "a ring of truth," and called the Edmonton Police operation very well-planned and executed.  

"Mr. Decoine-Zuniga took to the work like a fish to water. But while he greatly enjoyed the work, the lifestyle and the camaraderie, I find that he was always in control of his own destiny. He could have stopped or left at any time," Gill wrote in 16-page decision.

The undercover officer who played the role of Mr. Big was in court for the decision. He wiped away tears and told CBC News afterwards, "It was my operation. We tried to do everything we could."

The manslaughter trial resumes Monday.

With files from Janice Johnston


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