File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS                                A prosecutor says the trial for two people accused in connection with a 2017 quadruple killing in Calgary is like a journey into the heart of darkness. Burn marks from a vehicle fire mar the wall of a house under construction in northwestern Calgary.

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A prosecutor says the trial for two people accused in connection with a 2017 quadruple killing in Calgary is like a journey into the heart of darkness. Burn marks from a vehicle fire mar the wall of a house under construction in northwestern Calgary.

‘Heart of darkness:’ Closing arguments in Calgary quadruple killing trial

CALGARY — Lawyers for a pair accused in a quadruple killing say the Crown has not proven what happened before a man’s body was discovered by a rural highway and the bodies of three others were found in his burned-out car.

Yu Chieh Liao and Tewodros Kebede have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Hanock Afowerk, described to jurors as a petty criminal who made fake identification.

Liao has also pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the killings of Cody Pfeiffer, Tiffany Ear and Glynnis Fox, whose remains were found in Afowerk’s car by a suburban Calgary construction site on July 10, 2017.

Kebede has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the slaying of Pfeiffer, who the Crown said might have been asked to help dispose of Afowerk’s body.

Liao’s lawyer, Susan Karpa, said the Crown’s case was like an unfinished puzzle.

“All the pieces have to be inserted. You have been left with many missing pieces,” she said in her closing arguments Thursday. “Instead, you have been invited to surmise and speculate.”

The Crown’s theory is that Afowerk was kidnapped, held for ransom, tortured and killed when he was no longer of any use. His remains were found west of the city with his pants and underwear pulled down.

Prosecutors believe Pfeiffer, and sisters Ear and Fox — who had all been living in the same apartment — were killed because they were witnesses. No one has been charged in their deaths.

“This case has been a journey into the heart of darkness, and we have seen the horror that human beings can inflict upon one another,” prosecutor Brian Holtby told jurors.

He said Afowerk was killed “for no good reason other than monetary gain and perhaps an enjoyment in inflicting pain.”

The Crown’s case rested heavily on cellphone evidence that put both accused near key locations: where the victims lived, where it’s believed Afowerk was kidnapped, the autobody shop where prosecutors believe he was killed and where his body was dumped.

Karpa pointed out to jurors that no witnesses were called to testify about what happened on the night of July 9, 2017, and that there was no forensic evidence from the autobody shop or testimony from its owner.

The evidence points away from her client and toward her co-accused, Karpa suggested.

Kebede was “running the show” as the two suspects travelled across the country after the killings in a white Jeep that Liao had rented, she said.

Karpa noted Kebede lit a bag of clothing on fire in a Saskatchewan farmer’s field. She said his DNA was found in the Jeep, he was in possession of Afowerk’s phone, sliced-up bank card and driver’s licence, and he organized for Liao and a friend to help clean blood and vomit from the Jeep.

“They were aware that Mr. Kebede had a gun on him and they were scared,” said Karpa, who added there was no evidence her client had a firearm.

Kebede’s lawyer, Jeinis Patel, did not deny his client was involved, but said the Crown did not prove he played an “essential, substantial and integral” part in Afowerk’s forcible confinement and killing.

Both defence lawyers questioned the accuracy of the Crown’s cell tower evidence. They also pointed out that there were other people involved — at least one of whom fled the country — and argued that the Crown did not establish definitively when and where Afowerk died.

Jurors are to return to court Monday to receive final instructions from Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Blair Nixon before they deliberate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read