A conspiracy to commit murder charge was dropped on Thursday against a Red Deer man accused of a gangland-style murder three years ago.
Christopher Martin Fleig, 28, still faces a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting of Brandon Neil Prevey, 29, in Inglewood on April 5, 2009.
The defence made the application to have the charge of conspiracy to murder of Nick Soto dismissed after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Kirk Sisson tossed a statement Fleig made to police shortly after he was arrested. The Crown prosecutor did not oppose the application.
Sisson ruled that Fleig’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated on March 29, 2010, when he was interviewed by RCMP. His statement after his arrest will be excluded.
In his decision on Fleig’s statement, Sisson points out serious flaws with the police handling of the interview that followed Fleig’s arrest earlier that day.
“This is not intended to be a criticism of the police and this decision is not intended to be punishment but the simple fact is one of the most basic and well known obligations of a police officer was almost totally, exactly and unforgivably ignored,” says Sisson, in his written decision that followed a voir dire, or trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of evidence.
Sisson goes on to say that the failure to read Fleig his charter rights “was not a minor lapse.
“At the least it was reckless disregard and supports exclusion of the evidence.”
Although Fleig was asked a number of times during an interview at the detachment whether he wanted to call a lawyer, he was not specifically read his rights or given an opportunity to make a private phone call, says Sisson.
Fleig’s lawyer Allan Fay had argued the disregard of his client’s rights was “significant and egregious.”
The court heard that Fleig met Soto in prison and worked for him selling crack cocaine.
Prevey was shot dead about 3 a.m. just after pulling up outside a home on Ibbotson Close in his Jeep Cherokee. He and a woman with him planned to attend a party.
The Crown’s theory is that Fleig targeted a different man who drives the same vehicle as the one in which Prevey when he was killed.
Another vehicle came by and shots were fired and Prevey was hit several times. The woman wasn’t hurt.
Fleig took the stand on Thursday afternoon and provided a detailed and disturbing glimpse into the world of drug trafficking.
He got his start trafficking marijuana and graduated to becoming a dial-a-dope crack cocaine dealer. After being fired by Soto, he made other connections and his career began to take off when he was sent to Red Deer to replace gang members run out of town by the RCMP.
To avoid police trouble, Fleig recruited underlings with no criminal records who did not look the part of drug dealer. Deals were made on Blackberrys using encrypted emails.
He eventually went to work for Prevey, a partnership that proved very lucrative to both. Fleig was sent to Fort St. John, B.C., to set up a drug operation and returned to Edmonton every two weeks with $15,000 to $30,000 in profits for Prevey.
Fleig’s success made him enemies within drug circles though. As he switched employers, his former bosses were not happy to lose the money he was so successful in bringing in. He agreed to buy out Prevey for $50,000 at one point.
Further drug dealing stops included Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, before he ended up back in Red Deer.
Eventually, Fleig left the Crazy Dragons gang in late 2007 or early 2008 and became a solo operator. By then, he believed he was a marked man in drug circles and purposely avoided the bars where former colleagues hung out and bought two aggressive dogs as protection. He said he didn’t keep weapons for fear of landing police charges if his home was searched.
Fleig was asked by his lawyer whether he was concerned that Soto said he wanted to kill him.
“Concerned. I was more than concerned,” he said.
His drug business continued to flourish however. Besides cocaine, he and his associates peddled ecstasy, buying 60,000 tablets a month for resale.
By 2009, he had moved to Calgary, partly because he figured he would be too conspicuous driving his luxury Bentley in Red Deer.
In a separate decision, the justice allowed evidence related to the discovery of a gun by a man who is now deceased.
Fleig’s testimony continues today with Crown cross-examination expected in the afternoon.