Witnesses recall Calgary restaurant gang shooting

Calgary court hears emotional accounts from witnesses in the trial of two men charged with three counts of first-degree murder stemming back to January 2009.

Mother of victim, eye witness testify in New Year's Day murder trial

Defendants Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto have pleaded not guilty to three charges of first-degree murder. (Courtesy Sharon Sargent )
The family of murder victim Aaron Bendle wrote a letter about how much they miss him. (CBC)
A Calgary court was back in session Thursday to address charges against two men in relation to a triple homicide at Bolsa Restaurant on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto have pleaded not guilty to three charges of first-degree murder for the killing of Sanjeev Mann, Aaron Bendle and innocent bystander Keni Su'a.

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

Eye witness breaks down

Later in the day, court watched a taped interview from a man who witnessed the death of Su’a.

Scott Walker has health issues, so Justice Earl Wilson allowed the audio interview done with Calgary police just hours after the murders to be presented to court.

Walker can be heard breaking down as he describes 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."

The court also learned Walker was subjected to photo line-ups with Zuccherato’s and Roberto’s photo but marked no beside both, indicating he did not recognize the men.

This information caused Zuccherato’s father, who has been on hand the entire trial, to smile and nod his head.

Victim’s mother mourns loss

Earlier in the afternoon, Bendle’s mother testified about the last time she saw her son alive the day before the murder.

Bendle was kidnapped and used as bait to lure Mann, the real target and known gang member.

In a handwritten letter to the media, Bendle's parents say they are proud of the young man their son was.

The month-long trial for three murders that took place at the Bolsa Restaurant in southeast Calgary is currently hearing testimony. (CBC)

The note also says they miss the love he shared so freely, as well as his quiet thoughtfulness and broad smile.

‘Fifth man’ testimony wraps

For the last three days, the court has also heard testimony from the police informant M.M., whose identity is protected by a court order.

Also known as the "fifth man," M.M. told the court that he and his former friends — the defendants — are responsible for the execution of the three victims.

In cross-examination, defence lawyers were trying to press the point that even though M.M. didn't pull the trigger he is equally responsible for the deaths by not informing police about the plot.

During court Wednesday, M.M. said shortly after becoming an informant he had told police in November 2008 about the plans to kidnap Bendle, use him as bait and kill Mann in rival gang revenge plot.

Kevin Brookwell from the Calgary Police Service told reporters Wednesday they had followed through on the tip by warning specific individuals, approaching families to ask for their cooperation and putting out a plea to the public for assistance.

M.M. said he would also help police by wearing a wire to play an active role in helping police "bring down my group of friends in exchange for help turning my life around."

But as that fateful day in January 2009 approached, M.M. testified he was too scared to contact police.

He did admit playing a role in kidnapping Bendle and then burning the clothes and evidence after the shooting that he implicates the defendants — Zuccherato and Roberto — in.

M.M. not only provided the name and phone number of Bendle — the man used as bait to lure his associate Mann to the restaurant, who were then both killed — but also provided the home where he was taken while kidnapped.

M.M. said he acted as a guard while his friends allegedly carried out the execution. While he was arrested for his connection to the incident, no charges were pressed and he has been given immunity from prosecution for his testimony.