Cody Alan Legebokoff had a "system" he used to target vulnerable women, sexually assault them and then kill them using various tools and implements, Crown prosecutor Joseph Temple told the jury Wednesday at the Prince George courthouse.
Temple emphasized the similarities between the deaths of the three women and one teenage girl Legebokoff is alleged to have killed. He is accused of murder in the deaths of Jill Stacey Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Frances Maas, 35, Natasha Lynn Montgomery, 23, and Loren Donn Leslie, 15.
All four murders occurred within a 14-month span, beginning with Stuchenko, whose body was found Oct. 20, 2009 partially buried in a gravel pit off Foothills Boulevard. The last three murders were committed over slightly less than three months, according to Temple.
Stuchenko, Maas and Montgomery were described as sex trade workers addicted to crack cocaine while Leslie suffered from mental health issues, used marijuana and met Legebokoff through a social media site.
"All four were apparently willing to meet with and associate with unknown males and accompany those males to the male's residence or motor vehicle to consume drugs or alcohol," Temple said.
Evidence, and Legebokoff's own testimony, indicated Stuchenko was murdered in the basement suite of the 1500-block Carney Street home where he was living at the time. A large amount of blood was found on the couch he had taken with him when he later moved to a 1400-block Liard Drive apartment where the Crown alleges he murdered Montgomery.
Temple suggested the reason Stuchenko was found in a shallow grave was because her killer discovered that digging one deep enough was too difficult and he "just gave up."
Temple then proposed that when the Legebokoff killed Montgomery, who went missing in late August or early September 2010 and has never been found, he decided to dismember her body because he thought it would make it easier to dispose of.
Montgomery's blood had been found throughout Legebokoff's apartment as well as on an ax found in the home, which Temple said showed the attempt turned into a "horrible, bloody mess."
"So the sensible thing, the thing that, after two botched attempts to dispose of the body, would have eventually occurred to him was 'well just take it out of doors, take them to where I want to kill them and deal with them there,'" Temple said.
Consequently, Temple said, Legebokoff took Maas to L.C. Gunn Park where her body was found Oct. 9, 2010. An expert witness estimated she had been killed about a month before the body was discovered.
Likewise, Leslie's body was found Nov. 27, 2010 in a bushy area off a logging road north of Vanderhoof, Temple said and further noted all three were found in similar positions and with similar types of injuries.
"All suffered massive blunt trauma to the head and upper torso and suffered from multiple blows with significant force," Temple said and added all were found with significant injuries to their hands and, in the case of Stuchenko, to her arms, "all likely caused by warding off or blocking blows to the head."
While Montgomery's body has never been found, Temple told the jury details of her death can be inferred from aspects of Legebokoff's own story about what happened. Legebokoff testified that someone he identified only as X attacked her in the hallway of his apartment, beating her with a steel bar. Temple asserted X does not exist and Legebokoff actually carried out the crime.
Contrary to what Legebokoff told the court, Temple submitted that Montgomery was more likely murdered before Maas and suggested the accused tailored his account to the evidence he heard in court prior to giving his own testimony.
Legebokoff testified that although he provided most of the weapons, X, aided by two accomplices, carried out the actual killings of Stuchenko, Maas and Montgomery because they owed drug debts. But Temple said those types of murders are usually committed to send a message to others who owe such debts and did not square with the fact that the ways Stuchenko and Maas were found suggested their murders were sexually motivated.
No forensic evidence from X and the two others was ever found, Temple also noted, while four of the weapons Legebokoff said were used - an ax, a pipe wrench, a pickaroon (a tool similar to a pickaxe) and a multitool - were under the care and control of the accused.
Temple argued Legebokoff carried out all four murders with planning and deliberation and even if there is not enough evidence to suggest that was the case with Stuchenko, he said there is enough to show she was sexually assaulted, which is also a basis for first-degree murder.
As for Montgomery, Temple said the victim's blood found in Legebokoff's bedroom - on a bedsheet, comforter, box spring and mattress - also show her murder was sexually motivated.
Temple went on to pay particular attention to Leslie's death and the story Legebokoff initially gave police when they noticed blood in his truck and on his clothing at the time of his arrest on the night her body was found.
He told police a friend had shot a deer and after they chased down the wounded animal, Legebokoff clubbed it with a pipe wrench and stabbed it with a knife from his multi-tool to put it out of its misery.
Temple said that although Legebokoff refused to provide the identities of X and the two others for fear he would be known as a "rat" in prison, he "had no compunction about falsely implicating his friend from infancy."
Temple suggested the jury could replace the deer with Leslie to get a clearer picture of what really happened.
"She was beaten with a pipe wrench, her throat was cut with a Leatherman knife, she was dragged from the scene of her murder and tucked away in the woods off the road," Temple said.
Temple also contended there was an element of truth in his story that Leslie struck herself with a pipe wrench and stabbed herself the multitool after she went "psycho." Legebokoff told the court that he, in turn, took up the pipe wrench and hit her in the head because he was "angry with the way things turned out," Temple said.
While Temple dismissed Legebokoff's story that Leslie committed the injuries to herself as "inconceivable," he asserted the accused was angry because she refused to have sex with him and, when she tried to escape from his truck, he chased her down. When he did kill her and dragged her body into the bush, he left her in a "sexually degrading way," Temple said.
Temple noted that under cross examination, Legebokoff "made a distinct point" of describing his girlfriend at the time of his arrest as a "good girl" and suggested there was distinction in his mind between her and the women he murdered.
Temple also touched on the fact Legebokoff was wearing shorts at the time of his arrest on the night Leslie's body was found. Stains of blood from Montgomery as well as from Leslie were found on them that, according to expert witness testimony, indicated their blood had spattered when he beat them.
The jury was dismissed until Monday morning when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett will give his charge.