Toss out 'Mr. Big' evidence, argues lawyer in Ardrossan murders
Evidence gathered by RCMP in a so-called Mr. Big sting against a teen accused of a double murder east of Edmonton must be thrown out, argues his lawyer.
Not only is the teen brain damaged and a compulsive liar, but Mounties used information from Alberta Child and Family Services to set the trap, argued Mona Duckett.
The accused, who is charged with second-degree murder in the June 2009 deaths of Barry Boenke and Susan Trudel at a rural property, was a ward of the province at the time of the slayings.
Duckett told the judge that the RCMP had tunnel vision, wanted a quick arrest and never really looked for the real killer.
She said the Mounties wasted time and, by their estimate, about $200,000 on two police stings involving the accused and another teen.
The teen had been the subject of a long police undercover operation intended to make him think he was being recruited into a large and powerful crime syndicate.
Officers posed as gangsters
Officers posing as gangsters tried to gain the teen's trust to get him to confess. Statements given by the teen during that operation are the subject of an ongoing hearing within his trial to test whether they may be admitted as evidence.
On Monday the youth retracted an confession that he killed two people east of Edmonton called the police operation that got him to make the statement another betrayal in a life full of them.
"I felt used," said the teen during testimony Monday.
But when the teen, now 17, realized he'd been duped after his arrest on May 10, 2012, he said police had taken advantage of him.
"It brought up a lot past issues in my life when I was taken advantage of by older males," said the defendant, who told court he'd been sexually abused as a boy. "I've been trying to get rid of that stuff my whole life."
The youth told prosecutor William Wister that he told one of the police officers posing as crooks that he committed the murders as well as other crimes in an effort to gain respect.
"I didn't want him to think I was some little kid," he testified. "I wanted him to think I was a solid person, like the others in the organization."
Wister asked the teen if he'd ever seen the officers carry guns or intimidate others during the operation. He said he hadn't.
Teen intimidated by officer
The teen said he was intimidated by one officer who would lower his voice, swear a lot and "get into my face" when he wanted to make a serious point.
The teen acknowledged he had the number of his social worker during the time the police were trying to set him up.
He also acknowledged that he became close to one of the officers, whom he referred to in testimony as "my only friend."
But he insisted his confession was a tissue of lies woven to help him blend in with his new peers.
The source of his information, he told court, was a preliminary hearing he sat through after police charged him for the first time with the murders.
Justice Brian Burrows will now have to determine whether evidence gathered through the Mr. Big operation can be used in the trial. He will announce his decision on May 10.
The youth and another youth ran away from a treatment facility run by Bosco Homes when they were both 14.
About 12 hours after the teens ran away, RCMP discovered the bodies of Boenke and his friend Trudel.
One teen confessed to police
Two teens were later found in Boenke's stolen pickup truck and one of them quickly confessed their involvement to police.
RCMP originally charged the two with first-degree murder but two years later, following pretrial hearings, the charges were stayed.
A judge ruled the statement made by the one teen was inadmissible and prosecutors conceded they had no case without it.
Last May, the Crown reactivated charges against the one teen because of new evidence. It was also learned that he faced a new, unrelated charge of counselling others to commit murder.
The trial earlier heard there is a lack of forensic evidence linking the boys to the crime. Their DNA was not found at the scene and there was no blood or gunshot residue on their clothes.
The gun that killed Boenke and Trudel has not been recovered.
With files from Canadian Press and CBC's Janice Johnston