VANCOUVER — Two men accused in the gang slayings of six people in a Surrey, B.C., apartment have been found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the deaths.
B.C. Supreme Court Judge Catherine Wedge says Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston were played key roles in the execution-style killings of defenceless victims.
Families and friends of the victims applauded when the verdicts were announced.
On Oct. 19, 2007, Haevischer, Johnston and an associate who can only be identified as Person X entered the suite of Corey Lal.
The trial heard they’d been sent there by their gang leadership to kill a rival drug dealer. Lal’s brother, Michael, and associates Eddie Narong and Ryan Bartolomeo were caught in the crossfire.
Ed Schellenberg, a 55-year-old father of two, was in the building to service fireplaces and Chris Mohan, a 22-year-old student who lived next door with his mother, were also killed in the suite by the assassins. Like the others, hoods were placed over their heads before they were shot execution-style.
The trial heard that the five other men were killed to eliminate potential witnesses.
The Crown’s theory was that the leaders of the Red Scorpion gang attempted to extort $200,000 from Lal and when he didn’t pay, they ordered him killed.
A couple of months into the trial, gang leader Michael Le entered a surprise guilty plea to conspiracy. The Crown dropped a first-degree murder charge and Le was sentenced to 12 years in prison in exchange for his testimony.
Person X pleaded guilty in April 2009 to three counts of second-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.
The trial took a year and heard from 73 witnesses.
The witness list included a gang leader who admitted to ordering the hit, as well as several former gangsters involved in the plot.
The Surrey murders were part of a bloody gang war that spanned several years and turned the streets of Metro Vancouver into a virtual shooting gallery.
Hardly a week went by without a drive-by shooting or criminal assassination of some sort.
Next May, former Red Scorpions leader Jamie Bacon faces trial for conspiracy and one count of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths. Bacon faces three additional charges alleging he ordered a hit on Person X.
Another man, Sophon Sek, is awaiting a separate trial for manslaughter.