Defence lawyer raises doubts in double murder trial

The lawyer representing a man accused of participating in a double murder questioned the quality of the evidence presented as he took steps during a closing argument Friday to cast doubt on the Crown prosecution's case.

Acting on behalf of Perry Andrew Charlie, lawyer Jason LeBlond emphasized a lack of direct evidence placing his client at the scene of the crime.

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"My submission is that at no point during the trial that you heard, has any witness ever actually pointed to my client and said this person was in the van on the night of the shooting," LeBlond told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church.

Charlie faces two counts of first-degree murder in the Jan. 25, 2017 deaths of David Laurin Franks and Thomas Burt Reed and a count of attempted murder in relation to Bradley William Knight, the sole survivor of what has been described as a targeted shooting.

Co-accused Seaver Tye Miller and Joshua Steven West have each pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and Aaron Ryan Moore to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and await sentencing.

Crown is theorizing that Franks had offended someone in the local drug culture and was lured to a pullout on Foothills Boulevard near North Nechako Road on the pretext of selling some cocaine to a known customer but with the intent that he be killed.

Reed had offered to drive Franks to the spot in his car and Knight was along for the ride, as was Reed's dog, Molly, who was also killed in the hail of gunfire. Knight, who had been sitting in the back seat, survived the attack by diving for cover and called 911 once the shooters had left the area, the court has heard.

Police apprehended West and Moore within a half-hour of the shooting but Charlie was arrested nearly 1 1/2 days later after RCMP connected him to an address where the getaway vehicle had allegedly stopped prior to the incident.

Although documents found in the home, located in the Caledonia Trailer Park off North Nechako Road, included a lease agreement in Charlie's name, several other names are linked to the address in an RCMP computer data base, LeBlond noted.

Even if Charlie was with the others, LeBlond questioned whether he was among the gunmen.

When he was arrested, Charlie was wearing shoes with a tread that generally matched that found in four footprints left in the snow at the scene of the crime, but LeBlond said the position of those prints conflicted with testimony from the getaway vehicle's driver.

Thomas Lee, who had been hired to drive four "riders" around the city and, unwittingly, to the rendezvous with Franks, testified that he pulled his van up alongside Franks' car so that they were parallel. From there, he said he saw Miller and West, firearms in hand, get out via passenger side and step in front of the van then heard them open fire. Lee testified he also heard someone get out on the driver's side via a sliding door and open fire, yet the footprints were found in front of the van where West and Moore had been.

The shots from the third shooter sounded like they came from a small-calibre gun, Lee also testified, yet the locations of the shells found at the scene failed to support his testimony, LeBlond said.

While Crown counsel provided evidence that Lee had driven Charlie to an appointment with a probation officer the month before, LeBlond maintained Lee did not really know who Charlie was, and questioned Lee's identification of Charlie in a police photo package. At first, Lee pointed to another photo before noting the photo of Charlie, LeBlond noted.

Throughout his testimony, Lee referred to Charlie only by his alleged nickname, "Unique" and only in terms of what he overheard while the others were talking.

"I submit that as to who was in the van, his evidence is scant," LeBlond said. "He says the person is 'Unique' and he does not described the individual by way of age or ethnicity or weight or hair colour. There are no actual descriptors.

"He doesn't even say that he remembers what he was wearing at all. He doesn't see any distinguishing features like tattoos. He just has this name and that's almost it."

LeBlond also noted Lee's friend,Steven Ray, who was sitting in the rear of the van, never made reference to the name when he testified.

Judgment has been reserved to a later date.

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