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Murder victim suffered gruesome death, court hears

Some grisly details surrounding the murder of Fribjon Bjornson were among the agreed facts read into the record Friday, as Crown and defence counsels set the stage for arguments next week on whether a Nak'azdli woman is guilty of playing a role in di
Fribjon Bjornson

Some grisly details surrounding the murder of Fribjon Bjornson were among the agreed facts read into the record Friday, as Crown and defence counsels set the stage for arguments next week on whether a Nak'azdli woman is guilty of playing a role in disposing of his body.

Teresa Marie Charlie, 24, has pleaded not guilty to one count each of accessory after fact to murder and attempt to obstruct justice in the January 2012 death of the Vanderhoof man, and confirmed those pleas at the start of the hearing.

Wesley Dennis Duncan, 30, and Jesse Darren Bird, 34, pleaded guilty in late August to second degree murder and await sentencing. The case against James David Charlie, 26, who faces one count each of murder and interference with a dead body, remains before the court.

According a statement of admissions presented during a hearing at the courthouse before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale, Bjornson, a 28-year-old father of two, was working as a log processor on a site north of Fort St. James.

On Jan. 9 or 10, 2012, he was paid $2,500 for his work and was carrying a large sum of cash when she showed up at his mother's Vanderhoof home shortly afterwards.

Bjornson was back at the work site the next day and at about 9 p.m., he and his employer, Tom Roberson, decided Bjornson would process more logs that night and then move the log processing machine to a new location. But when Roberson returned to the site the following afternoon, he found the machine had not been moved and no more logs had been processed.

At the time, Bjornson was driving his boss's truck, a blue GMC single-cab with a flat deck and wooden sides. Its ignition was punched and it could be started without a key.

On Jan. 12, just before 1 a.m., Bjornson attended the 7-11 convenience store in Vanderhoof and sometime thereafter left for Fort St. James, arriving in the community 61 kilometres to the north, at 2:30 a.m.

Once there, he drove to the home of Robert Antoine at 3 Lower Rd. on the Nak'azdli, just south of Fort St. James, to purchase drugs.

He was killed in the home's basement during the early morning hours of the same day, the court heard. Bjornson suffered a broken nose, two black eyes and cuts and contusions to his face and head shortly before his death and was ultimately strangled to death by Duncan.

That same day, his truck was left at the Sunset Court apartments on the reserve, and about a 10-minute walk away from Antoine's home, and the RCMP located the vehicle at the building on Jan. 23.

On Feb. 1, Bjornson's severed head wrapped in a comforter was found in the basement of 5 Lower Road. It had been severed from his body by two separate sets of chop wounds and a piece of beige plastic cable insulation was found wrapped in the comforter with Bjornson's DNA found on the item.

Another length of that insulation was found in the basement of 3 Lower Road hanging from the rafters. Bjornson's blood was found on the floor, on the north wall, on a pair of track pants, on the exterior stairs, on a piece of a beer bottle found on a window ledge and on a piece of drywall.A black sled was also later found in the 5 Lower Road home and a splitting maul with Bjornson's blood on it was found in the home's back yard buried in the snow by a member of the local search and rescue team.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 14 James Charlie started negotiating through text messages the purchase of a snowmobile and then, with Bird coming along, completed the purchase on Jan. 19.

In June 2015, the RCMP initiated a Mr. Big sting, in which police officers posed as high-level gangsters to gain the suspect's trust and extract a confession. Over the next five months, undercover officers carried out 76 scenarios.

On Oct. 8, 2015, during the 68th scenario, Bird confessed to a "crime boss" that he committed the murder. Two days later, he led undercover officers to a log jam on a grass-covered island in the middle of the Necoslie River and told them that was where Bjornson's body was buried.

Later the same month, Bjornson's femur and patella bones along with two pairs of jeans and a pair of underwear were found in the area.

On Oct. 12, during a Mr. Big scenario, Bird introduced Teresa Charlie and James Charlie to undercover officers. No further details were provided during the Friday's hearing.

During the hearing, Teresa Charlie appeared shaken when the statement got into the details of Bjornson's death but was otherwise impassive and spent most of her time reading along with her copy of the statement. About 20 of Bjornson's family and friends were in the gallery, some wiping tears.

The proceedings will resume on Tuesday at the courthouse.