Crown says Reno Lee's death was an execution, asks jury to find 3 men guilty of 1st-degree murder
WARNING: This story contains graphic details
Crown co-prosecutor Bill Jennings wrapped up his closing remarks Tuesday afternoon in the trial for three men accused in the shooting death and dismemberment of Reno Lee by arguing that the jury should find all three guilty of first-degree murder.
He advised the jury to use common sense and told them to believe the witnesses they've heard from over the weeks of the trial, which began on Jan. 22 in Regina's Court of Queen's Bench.
"You should convict them as charged," Jennings said of the three accused.
Bronson Gordon, Daniel Theodore and Andrew Bellegarde have pleaded not guilty to murdering Lee and committing an indignity to a body.
Police believe Reno Lee was killed on April 16, 2015, although they didn't find his remains in a shallow grave on Star Blanket First Nation until later that month.
Before Lee was taken to a home on Regina's Garnet Street, where it's alleged he was killed and dismembered, he had been at Gordon's home on Angus Road to broker a drug partnership, the trial has heard.
Gordon directed operation: Crown
"Lee was walking into a fatal trap" set by Gordon and his associates, Jennings said, when he thought he was going to a drug-business deal.
"Two shots to the head … that's no accident," Jennings told jurors. "It was an execution."
He argued the jury should find Gordon guilty of first-degree murder because he lured Lee and made him the trio's prisoner.
"He was the directing mind, or certainly working in concert with the other two, from start to finish," said Jennings. "[Gordon] set the trap and had Bellegarde and Theodore carry it out."
Gordon's defence painted him as a scapegoat, a victim and a bad drug dealer. Jennings suggested that Gordon is not credible, and that he tried to minimize his role, contradicted himself and gave self-serving evidence.
Jennings reminded the jury of the several inconsistencies between what Gordon told police in 2015 and his testimony during the trial.
He talked about how Gordon allegedly comforted Bellegarde the morning after Lee was killed, despite claiming not to know what had happened after the group left his apartment.
Theodore helped plan murder: Crown
Jennings suggested Gordon and Theodore were business partners. Gordon couldn't leave the apartment because he was being electronically monitored with an ankle bracelet at the time. Jennings said that's when Theodore took over directing the operation.
He argued that Theodore should also be found guilty of first-degree murder because he was deliberately involved in the planning, and the luring and killing of Lee.
Jennings also suggested Theodore could be found guilty because of his participation in the forcible confinement of Lee, during which the man was shot and killed.
Jennings pointed to the "drug orgy" that happened at the Garnet Street home where Lee was confined and killed. Theodore was not high at that time, the trial has heard.
"That's because he had a job to do," Jennings said. "He stayed sober. He directed traffic."
The Crown prosecutor also suggested that the tools used to dismember Lee's body were brought into house by Theodore.
Jennings also referred to the testimony of a witness at the trial who cannot be named because of a publication ban.
She testified that during the dismemberment, Theodore came upstairs and gave her blue surgical gloves, telling her to shred and flush them. Theodore also instructed her to get the SUV they were using, she said.
She testified that she saw Theodore and Bellegarde struggle to get a hockey bag with Lee's remains into the vehicle.
Jennings said Theodore either pulled the trigger himself or helped Bellegarde do it.
Bellegarde was 'muscle': prosecutor
Jennings said Lee wasn't just tied up in the basement where he was killed, but "was prevented from leaving by an armed gunman: Andrew Bellegarde."
The prosecutor said Bellegarde, like Theodore, should be found guilty of first-degree murder because he deliberately participated in the plan to kill Lee, or was at least a participant in the forcible confinement that lead to Lee's death.
Jennings suggested that Gordon involved Bellegarde in the plan as the "muscle."
The witness who cannot be named testified that Bellegarde told her he was holding Lee's head while Theodore sawed the neck and a plastic bag slipped, exposing Lee's face and eyes. She said Bellegarde began dry heaving after this.
This witness said Bellegarde later complained about what he was allegedly paid by Gordon after the job was done.
Defence argues for manslaughter
George Combe, Theodore's lawyer, spoke prior to Jennings on Tuesday. He said the other two accused in the trial were the driving forces behind Lee's death.
Combe said it was Bellegarde who shot Lee and that everyone inside the Garnet Street home was told to speak with Gordon.
According to Combe, Theodore was simply doing what he was told.
"[The events leading to Lee's death] started at Bronson Gordon's house ... my client was not there," Combe said.
Combe said his client is not guilty of first-degree murder, but suggested Theodore can be found guilty of manslaughter or second-degree murder. Combe said evidence only suggests that Theodore asked for materials to confine Lee at the house.
Justice Catherine Dawson will provide instructions to the jury for their deliberations on Wednesday.
With files from Kendall Latimer