Surprise confession emerges in Bolsa triple murder trial

The sentencing hearing for a man found guilty in the shooting at the Bolsa Restaurant in southeast Calgary has been adjourned because of a surprise confession.

Real Honorio's sentencing delayed after new evidence is introduced about the Crown's star witness

Bolsa trial’s unexpected confession

9 years ago
The sentencing hearing for a man found guilty in the shooting at the Bolsa restaurant has been adjourned because of a surprise confession. 2:31

The sentencing hearing for a man found guilty in the shooting at the Bolsa restaurant has been adjourned because of a surprise confession.

Real Honorio was found guilty in March of murder in connection to the Bolsa Restaurant shootings on New Year's Day 2009. (CBC)

Real Honorio was found guilty in March of killing three people on New Year's Day of 2009.

One of the victims, Sanjeev Mann, was a member of a rival gang. His associate Aaron Bendle and innocent bystander Keni Su'a were also gunned down.

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

Honorio, 28, is facing an automatic sentence of life in prison. Two other men, Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto, have already been sentenced in connection to the murders.

A fourth man, Nicholas Hovanesian, also pleaded guilty to kidnapping Bendle and accessory after the fact to murder.

But now the hearing for Honorio has been put on hold after court heard the Crown's star witness, a police informant who can only be identified as M.M., confessed to RCMP that he was the only shooter at the restaurant when he was arrested in Saskatchewan for drinking and driving last July.

Honorio teared up in court when he heard the news.

Confession surfaces

"I murdered Sanjeev Mann," read the confession transcript. "I murdered Aaron Bendle. I murdered Keni Su'a. I wanna be charged with three counts of first-degree murder."

Three people were gunned down at the Bolsa Vietnamese Restaurant in 2009, including innocent bystander Keni Su'a. (CBC)

M.M. describes how he ran into the Bolsa restaurant with a "nine millimetre, a 357 as well as a 45" and murdered the three victims in cold blood.

"Nathan Zuccherato did not. Michael Roberto did not. Nicholas Hovanesian did not. Nor did Charleman. I did," said M.M.'s confession transcript.

He also confessed to kidnapping Bendle the night before the murders.

"I'm telling you right now that I walked into Aaron Bendle's house ... the night before Jan. 1, 2009," said the transcript. "I kidnapped Aaron Bendle in his mother's house."

Despite the fact the confession happened almost a year ago, both the Crown and defence only got their hands on the new evidence less than a week ago — meaning the jury never got to consider that confession in its deliberations.

One of Honorio's lawyers, Greg Dunn, called it "troubling developments."

"We are gravely concerned with the fairness of the trial," he said.

"The issue is not whether the statement is completely accurate, whether the statement is partially accurate, [or] whether the statement is completely inaccurate, the question is why wasn't it disclosed, why wasn’t it put in front of the jury and why wasn't the confession of the main Crown witness tabled before Mr. Honorio's trial?"

Next steps unclear

Tonii Raulston, another of Honorio's lawyer, questioned how the evidence would have affected the jury, which deliberated for three days.

"If we would have went through with sentencing today, Mr. Honorio would have been sentenced to 25 years," he said. "So thank goodness we did receive that statement and now ... we have to assess our position to decide how we're going to move forward."

While both witness and ballistic evidence show there was more than one shooter, it could call into question the credibility of the crown's star witness. M.M. said Nathan Zuccherato, Michael Roberto and Real Honorio were the shooters during the trial.

But the court also heard about a videotaped confession Honorio made to undercover police.

Sentencing has been adjourned but what happens next is still unclear.

There's not much this level of court can do since a jury has delivered a verdict. Honorio"s lawyers may have to wait until the matter reaches the Alberta Court of Appeal, but the outcome could possibly include a mistrial.

This latest development is also pertinent in the appeals of Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto.