Lukas Strasser-Hird's killing preceded by dispute over coat check, court hears

Anger over a mix-up at a nightclub coat check was the 'turning point' the evening that Lukas Strasser-Hird was killed, a Calgary court heard Wednesday as the trial of his alleged murderers began.

Crown says anger over jacket mix-up led to fight that led to fatal stabbing outside Beltline nightclub

Lukas Strasser-Hird died on Nov. 23, 2013, after he was assaulted outside a bar in Calgary's Beltline area. (Facebook)

Anger over a mix-up at a nightclub coat check was the "turning point" the evening that Lukas Strasser-Hird was killed, a Calgary court heard Wednesday as the trial of his alleged murderers began.

Crown prosecutor Marlo MacGregor told the jury that one of the five accused, Assmar Ryiad Shlah, was visibly upset when he couldn't get his jacket as the night's festivities at Vinyl nightclub were gearing down.

Strasser-Hird was outside the nightclub at that point, MacGregor said, but the incident nevertheless triggered a series of events that eventually led to the 18-year-old Calgary resident being swarmed, beaten and stabbed to death in a nearby alley.

Shlah was eventually able to identify his jacket by the keys in the pocket and obtain it from the coat check staff, but was still angry, court heard, and continued to yell at bouncers as he was escorted outside.

The Crown alleges Shlah then approached Strasser-Hird, who hit him, resulting in Shlah getting a bloody nose.

As the fight continued, MacGregor said some of Shlah's friends decided to "inject themselves" into the altercation.

Strasser-Hird was then escorted back into bar for his own safety, the court heard, and he and his friends were later ushered out the back door into an alley.

But Shlah's group was waiting for them in the alley, MacGregor told the jury.

Strasser-Hird tried to flee but was hit and knocked down, then "kicked repeatedly in the body and numerous times in the
face," the prosecutor said.

Crown to call 100 witnesses

MacGregor said the Crown's case, which will include more than 100 witnesses, will detail how numerous people tried to intervene while Strasser-Hird was kicked, stabbed and beaten.

She said bystanders tried to perform CPR on the critically injured young man and, in a 911 call for help, the mob can still be heard in the background, harassing them.

He was rushed to Foothills Hospital and pronounced dead hours later, at 9:55 a.m.

Police seized Shlah's shirt and shoes for DNA testing, and MacGregor said she will present that evidence later in the trial.

Accused still at large

During the Crown's opening statement, Shlah and the other three accused that were sitting in the courtroom — Joch Simon Pouk, Jordan Lee Liao and Franz Cabrera — showed little emotion, mostly looking straight ahead.

Those four men were charged with second-degree murder in relation to Strasser-Hird's death.

A fifth accused, Nathan Paul Gervais, was charged with first-degree murder but he disappeared weeks before the trial began and remains at large.

Nathan Paul Gervais, 21 — one of five people charged with murder in the 2013 stabbing death behind a Calgary nightclub — has been on the lam since at least April 16. (Calgary Police Service)

All five pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.

Canada-wide warrants have been issued for Gervais' arrest and the Crown has said it will try him separately if and when he is apprehended.

With files from Jennifer Lee