Red Deer murder trial hears about Mr. Big operation

An elaborate undercover operation led to second-degree murder charges against a Red Deer man

Details of the elaborate Mr. Big operation that led to a second-degree murder charge against A Red Deer man was heard in Red Deer court on Thursday.

Nathan Desharnais, 28, is accused of killing Talia Meguinis, 27, and then dumping her body in a recycling bin. The body of the mother-of-three was discovered at a recycling facility in a Red Deer’s industrial park on Feb. 22, 2012.

Dubbed Operation Commando 2, the Mr. Big sting involved numerous officers and spanned three provinces during the summer of 2012.

An undercover officer, whose name is protected under a publication ban, said he played the role of a “second from the top” in a criminal organization.

Over four meetings with Desharnais in Kelowna, B.C., Toronto and Calgary he developed their relationship and instilled in Desharnais the importance of being truthful to the higher-ups in the fictitious crime organization.

Related: Trial to go ahead

Desharnais was wined and dined in Toronto and taken to a Blue Jays game by his supposedly criminal friends. During dinner, the undercover officer let slide that he heard Desharnais had some problems in Alberta that could draw heat on the organization.

If he needed help he should talk to the organization’s boss to get it resolved, he suggested.

Desharnais said there was “no evidence” against him in a conversation that was recorded on a wire the officer was wearing.

The undercover officer questioned how he could be so sure and warned him that pride comes before the fall.

The next time the undercover officer met Desharnais was in a Calgary restaurant on Sept. 11. This time, the boss was there and he and Desharnais went outside for a private conversation.

Three days later, Desharnais was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and interfering with human remains.

All of the testimony so far in the trial, which is expected to last until mid-February has been held under a voir dire, essentially a trial within a trial to test the admissibility of evidence.

A second voir dire was begun on Thursday afternoon revolving around photos of the victim recovered from Desharnais’s cellphone when he was arrested for an unrelated aggravated sexual assault in June 2012 in Red Deer.

Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton is arguing the evidence from the cellphone was obtained through an “unlawful search and seizure” and is not admissible in the murder trial.

The trial continues on Friday.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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