Two plead guilty to second degree murder in Bjornson death

Two men pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the January 2012 death of Fribjon Bjornson, whose remains were found in an abandoned home on the Nak'azdli reserve adjacent to Fort St. James.

Wesley Dennis Duncan, 30, and Jesse Darren Bird, 34, entered the pleas during a brief hearing before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale at the Prince George courthouse. When they were arrested in November 2013, Duncan was originally charged with second-degree murder and Bird with accessory after the fact to murder and interference with a dead body. But the charge against Duncan was later upgraded to first degree murder and the count was added to the charges Bird faces.

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Second-degree murder implies the act was committed on impulse while the Crown must prove planning to get a conviction for first-degree murder. Second-degree carries a sentence of life in prison without eligibility for parole for at least 10 years - although the judge has leeway to increase that term during sentencing - while at least 25 years must be served for first degree.

At defence counsel's request Tindale ordered pre-sentence reports for the two. The reports should be completed by the end of this year with sentencing to occur in January. Bird continues to face counts of accessory after the fact to murder and interference with a dead body. As well, James David Charlie, 26, continues to face a charge of indignity to human remains and Teresa Marie Charlie, 24, continues to face a charge of accessory after the fact to murder.

A trial on those matters remains scheduled to begin later this month.

Bjornson's father, mother and sister were in the courtroom.

As Bird was led away in handcuffs following the hearing, he looked back at the family with his eyes welling up in tears, crossed himself and said "I pray for you every day, sorry." Duncan followed, and also with tears welling up said "I was fucked up on drugs, sorry."

"Fuck off," was the reply from Bjornson's father as he glared back at Bird.

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