British Columbia

B.C. father, sons stand trial for murder

A father on trial for murder along with his two adult sons was once a small-town Vancouver Island councillor and logger known for his toughness and devotion to family.

Accused man drove victim's body to police station

A father on trial for murder along with his two adult sons was once a small-town Vancouver Island councillor and logger known for his toughness and devotion to family.

On Monday, former Highlands, B.C., town councillor Ken Brotherston and his sons, Ken Jr. and Gregory, each stood up in B.C. Supreme Court and entered not guilty pleas and then sat in separate prisoners' boxes for the first day of their second-degree murder trial.

The father and sons were charged after the body of Keith Taylor, 33, was taken to the West Shore RCMP detachment, about 10 kilometres northwest of Victoria.

In his opening statement to the judge, Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir said the profound beating Taylor suffered "was not a case of self-defence," although the incident occurred in a home where known cocaine users and crack addicts congregated.

The Brotherstons, all wearing suits, stared straight ahead and did not look at each other as Weir addressed the court.

Weir said that on May 30, 2008, a Ford pickup stopped outside the West Shore RCMP detachment in suburban Victoria and Ken Brotherston Sr. stepped out. Through an intercom, Brotherston told an RCMP dispatcher that he had just had a fight with a man with a gun and the man was in his truck.

Taylor was lying dead in the truck, said Weir.

'Threw him down stairs'

The Crown said the court will hear medical evidence that Taylor died of strangulation, and structures in his neck were broken from two directions.

Taylor's body was covered with multiple superficial blunt-force injuries, his body contained drag marks, there were huge cuts on his face, his nose was broken and he had head injuries.

"There is no doubt he suffered a tremendous amount of punishment," said Weir.

Weir said the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, will hear evidence that Brotherston, 53, threw the first punch at the home in the Victoria-area community of Colwood, then choked Taylor unconscious twice and threw him down a flight of stairs.

The court will also hear evidence that the sons — Ken Jr., 33, and Gregory, 27 — held back people who tried to intervene and at one point Ken Jr. waved a handgun.

Weir said the judge will hear from some of the people who were inside the home at the time, including some known by unique nicknames like Jimmy the Sledgehammer and Sidecar Bob.

The Crown lawyer said Ken Jr. had a confrontation with Taylor in the afternoon on the day he died. He said the confrontation involved Taylor making threats to the Brotherston family while he was armed.

Later that evening, the three Brotherstons arrived at the home.

Neighbours called 911

Neighbours started calling 911 at about 6:50 p.m. and Taylor was officially pronounced dead at the RCMP detachment at 7:30 p.m.

The court heard neighbour Ayla Hagreen's call to 911.

"Someone's really hurt," she said, telling the dispatcher she heard men fighting, women screaming, things breaking and someone yelling, "leave him, leave him."

Hagreen told the dispatcher she also heard someone say, "Get the gun."

"It was pretty scary," said Hagreen, who told the dispatcher she had locked her windows and doors and fled to a safer part of her home.

Another neighbour, Myrna Pantella called 911 with concerns about a "serious disturbance." She said she saw people sneaking up to the back of the two-storey house.

Ken Brotherston Sr.'s arrest in May 2008 sent shock waves through the Highlands, where the Brotherstons are known as a pioneering family who have lived in the area for generations. The six-foot-four, 250-pound former logger and rugby player is known widely as a gentle giant, say locals.

Marie Brotherston, the wife and mother of the accused, was not allowed in the courtroom Monday because she, too, will testify at the trial. Ken Jr. and Gregory also face assault charges.