Trial begins for father accused of killing kids

The murders of three children in their Merritt, B.C., home were planned and deliberate acts of revenge against their mother, Crown prosecutors told a judge on the first day of the murder trial of their father.

Allan Dwayne Schoenborn

Allan Dwayne Schoenborn

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The murders of three children in their Merritt, B.C., home were planned and deliberate acts of revenge against their mother, Crown prosecutors told a judge on the first day of the murder trial of their father.

Allan Schoenborn is accused of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Cordon, eight-year-old Max, their 10-year-old sister Kaitlynne.

The children’s bodies were found by their mother in their Merritt, B.C., trailer home on April 6, 2008.

Crown prosecutor Sheri Mark described a gruesome murder scene in her opening statement Thursday, explaining that Kaitlynne was stabbed numerous times, while Cordon and Max were both suffocated.

Mark said evidence will show that the murders were conducted over a period of time.

Schoenborn’s defence lawyer asked the judge not to play a 911 recording of the call the children’s mother made after finding their bodies.

Crown Glenn Kelt told court it is a “wrenching” tape of a call that shows how devastated she was.

“The Crown contends this was an attack or some form of revenge on the mother. She has suffered greatly from the death of her children,” he said.

The children’s mother, Darcie Clarke, has never spoken publicly about the murders but she is scheduled to testify at the trial.

Const. Michael Pears one of the first officers on the scene testified that the found the two boys “cuddled” together on the living room couch. The girl’s body was found wrapped in a bloody blanket in her bedroom in the back of the trailer.

Before the trial started Schoenborn, wearing a blue dress shirt and red prison-issue pants, quietly pleaded not guilty to each of the three counts of first-degree murder.

Schoenborn’s mental state will be a key issue at the trial, which is being heard by judge alone.

The deaths rocked the small ranching community of Merritt, located about 270 km northeast of Vancouver.

There was a manhunt for Schoenborn, who remained a fugitive for a week before a local trapper found him, hungry and dehydrated, in the woods.

Before the murders, Schoenborn had several run-ins with the law.

Police arrested him three times in the week before the deaths in Merritt, including for allegedly uttering threats at his children’s elementary school.

There was a restraining order restricting him from contact with his wife, although after the murders neighbours said Schoenborn had been staying with the family for about a week.

The trial, which is taking place in a Kamloops, B.C., courtroom, is scheduled to last about a month.