New Year's Day triple murder defendants found guilty

Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto were found guilty Monday night on three counts of first-degree murder for their roles in a triple slaying on New Year's Day 2009.

Sanjeev Mann, Aaron Bendle and Keni Su’a were gunned down at Bolsa restaurant in 2009

Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto were each found guilty Monday night of three charges of first-degree murder. (Courtesy Sharon Sargent)

Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto were found guilty in a Calgary court Monday night on three counts of first-degree murder for their roles in a triple slaying on New Year's Day 2009.

Sanjeev Mann, Aaron Bendle and Keni Su'a were gunned down in the rival gang revenge plot at Bolsa Vietnamese Restaurant in Calgary's southeast.

Mann, 22, was a known gang member and Bendle, 21, was an associate and had been kidnapped and used as bait to lure Mann to the restaurant. Su'a, a bystander, was also killed.

Roberto, 27, and Zuccherato, 25 — who both pleaded not guilty — did not react when the jury's verdict was read in a Court of Queen's Bench courtroom.

Zuccherato's father, who has been on hand the entire trial, buried his head in his hands and cried quietly.

Dressed like 'ninjas'

Roberto and Zuccherato were masked when they entered the restaurant and opened fire Jan. 1, 2009. At least one witness testified the shooters were dressed like "ninjas."

Su'a, a 43-year-old construction worker, was eating in the Vietnamese restaurant and tried to escape, but was gunned down and beaten in the parking lot.

In a taped interview with police, just hours after the murders, eyewitness Scott Walker was heard breaking down as he described three people gunning down a man, later identified as Su’a.

From his car that just pulled out of the Rona parking lot across the street, Walker said he saw Su’a run out of the restaurant followed by men who "started dumping shots into him. One guy never stopped firing."

Walker has health issues, so Justice Earl Wilson allowed the audio interview to be presented to court.

Victim impact statements will be read Tuesday.

Both men will receive a life sentence of 25 years without parole.

The exchange was part of an escalating, violent feud between two rival gangs — Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) and FOB Killers (FK).

Two others have been charged with the deaths and will appear in court at a later date.

'A significant blow'

"It's a significant blow to the FK, FOB and we've got more trials ahead but it was a good start," said Crown prosecutor Shane Parker, who thanked Calgary police for their investigative work.

Much of the trial has focused on gang connections between the pair charged and two of the victims.

Crown witness M.M., who cannot be named under court order, played a pivotal role throughout the trial.

He had testified earlier that Mann was targeted in the revenge plot for the killing of rival FOB gang member Roger Chin six months earlier. M.M., also known as the fifth man, testified that he acted as a guard as the execution was carried out.

M.M. agreed to work with police in the fall of 2008. Deciding he wanted a new lifestyle, M.M. agreed to "bring down my group of friends in exchange for help turning my life around."

The police informant told officials of the plan, but as the date approached was too scared to contact police again.

Although arrested for his connection to the killings, the police informant was not charged and was given immunity for his testimony in the trial.

Before the murder, police discovered a hit list with Mann’s photo on it. There was a picture of him with hair that had "now bald" written on it and a checkmark beside his name.