Crown closes in on stories

Crown prosecutor Joseph Temple urged the jury during a closing statement that began Tuesday to dismiss as "incredible accounts" Cody Allan Legebokoff's claim that a drug dealer aided by two others committed the acts of killing the three women he is alleged to have murdered.

Legebokoff, 24, is accused of first degree murder in the deaths of Jill Stacy Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Frances Maas, 35, and Natasha Lynn Montgomery, 23, three women who were involved in the Prince George drug scene, and Loren Donn Leslie, 15.

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During testimony last week, Legebokoff said a drug dealer he identified only as X clubbed Stuchenko to death with a pipe over the October 2009 Thanksgiving Day long weekend during a party in the basement suite of a 1500-block Carney Street home where the accused was living at the time.

By his own account, Legebokoff would known X for less than two months at the time, Temple noted and cast doubt on the story that X would have had enough trust in the accused to have carried out such an act at the location.

"What drug dealer in any resemblance of his right mind would do such a thing?" Temple said. "That is completely and utterly improbable."

Temple also cast doubt on Legebokoff's assertion he and Stuchenko had consensual sex. Legebokoff's semen was found in Stuchenko's anus, which was bruised and lacerated, and on a tampon found in her vagina after her body was found Oct. 20, 2009 partially buried in a gravel pit off Foothills Boulevard near Otway Road.

Legebokoff told the court that after Stuchenko was killed, X pulled her body off the couch where she had been sitting and Legebokoff dragged the body across the suite's carpet into a nearby laundry room.

But Temple said very little blood was found in Stuchenko's body while so much was found on the couch that an "icicle of congealed blood" was found hanging from its bottom. Moreover, no "transfer stain" was found along the carpet, Temple said.

He went on to challenge Legebokoff's story that Stuchenko had been hit with a pipe.

"Blood literally poured out of her at the location," Temple said. "That means a major blood vessel was severed."

Legebokoff showed an "inability to recollect all sorts of details," Temple said, from the clothing he and the victims were wearing to the conversations they had and described his demeanour during cross examination as evasive and vague.

When pressed about apparent inconsistencies between his story and the evidence collected from the scene of Leslie's death, Legebokoff responded with "rhetorical questions" rather than giving "factual answers," Temple said.

"He's not being forthright, he's not giving the answers, he's not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Temple told the jury.

Temple disputed Legebokoff's story that Maas's killing began at the hands of X while in the 1400-block Liard Drive apartment he had since moved to and was finished by one of his accomplices near where her decomposed body had been found in L.C.Gunn Park on Oct. 9, 2010.

Maas's blood was found on a pickaroon, a sock and a pair of shoes located in the apartment but nowhere on surfaces of the apartment itself, Temple said.

Considering the little effort he gave to cleaning up Stuchenko's blood when he lived in the basement suite and the abundance of Montgomery's blood found in the apartment, Temple said Maas's blood would have been found if she was killed in the apartment.

And contrary to his story that he and an accomplice of X's had placed her in the middle seat of Legebokoff's pickup truck prior to taking her to L.C. Gunn Park, Temple said no blood was found in that spot.

Temple disputed Legebokoff's story that shortly after Maas' death, X was the one who committed the murder when Montgomery was killed in his apartment. The accused said X had attacked Maas in the hallway with a steel bar but Temple said that did not square with the blood from Montgomery found in Legebokoff's bedroom.

Earlier in the day, during his closing address to the jury, defence lawyer Jim Heller argued Legebokoff should be found guilty of second degree murder, not first degree.

Heller said Legebokoff admitted to involvement in all four murders but did not commit them in a planned and deliberate way nor were they committed during acts of sexual assault.

Temple challenged that position.

Even if the jury accepts Legebokoff's story that three people he identified as only X, Y and Z killed the three women, Temple suggested he is still guilty of first degree murder because he knew of the intention and supplied the murder weapons.

"If you choose to assist that person to complete his plan, you have made yourself a party to a planned and deliberate murder," Temple said and added he expects Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett will instruct the jury further on what that means.

During his address, Heller went through evidence indicating three of the victims were drug users with Stuchenko and Montgomery carrying drug debts. One witness testified he paid off a $500 debt on behalf of Stuchenko and another said Montgomery's head was shaved because she owed money.

Whether Maas was in debt was more questionable according to the evidence Heller reviewed.

Heller went over evidence surrounding Leslie's mental health. Legebokoff said the partially-blind 15-year-old went crazy and began hitting herself with a pipe wrench and then appeared to have stabbed herself with a knife on the night her body was found Nov. 27, 2010 near a gravel pit north of Vanderhoof.

Legebokoff said that in a fit of panic he hit Leslie in the head with the pipe wrench before dragging her body off into the bush and then fleeing the scene in his pickup truck. Shortly after he drove onto HIghway 27, an RCMP officer pulled him over for speeding and then noticed blood on the accused and in his truck.

Leslie had been released from an 18 day stay in psychiatric care less than a week before her death and an RCMP officer found evidence she had been overdosing on medication prescribed to her on the day of her release, Heller noted.

The psychiatrist who was working with Leslie "seemed to minimize a little bit what appeared to be some of the problematic aspects of her mental defect," Heller said and told jury members they did not have to "accept every last aspect of [an expert witness's opinion] as gospel."

Heller also said testimony for another expert witness suggested the knife wound to Leslie's neck could have been caused by just a single blow although it was also possible she was stabbed more than once.

That Legebokoff would have reacted to Leslie's outburst in such a way is "hard to get one's mind around," Heller said, but "not everybody responds and reacts in the way you might expect."

Temple, in turn, reminded the jury that the psychiatrist found to be "ridiculous" the possibility that Leslie would have struck herself with a pipe wrench. Temple went on to say that the probably of Leslie stabbing herself twice in the neck was "just absurd."

Heller went on to note that despite an exhaustive search of Legebokoff's truck, no evidence of Montgomery or Stuchenko were ever found in the vehicle and a tire track investigators came across at the gravel pit where Stuchenko's body was discovered Oct. 20, 2009 was found not to be from Legebokoff's truck.

Likewise, Heller said no forensic evidence indicating Maas had been in Legebokoff's apartment was uncovered nor was evidence of who may have handled a pickaroon, allegedly the weapon used to kill her, found by investigators.

Temple urged the jury to accept testimony from Legebokoff that could be corroborated by evidence from other sources.

"As for the rest of it, his story [about] Mr. X, Y and Z is just fabrication," Temple said.

Temple's closing statement will continue Wednesday at the Prince George courthouse.

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