Defence opens case in Bolsa triple murder trial

Real Christian Honorio did not shoot any of the three victims of the New Year’s Day 2009 massacre at Bolsa Restaurant, his lawyer said in her opening statement of his trial on Wednesday.

Tonii Roulston also told the jury that Honorio did not take part in the planning of the murders, and she called the two key Crown witnesses who fingered him as one of three killers — M.M. and C.E. — “liars.”

As well, said the lawyer, the fact that her client did not testify in his own defence cannot be used against him.

“He doesn’t have to prove he didn’t do it.”

However, Honorio admitted to undercover officers in a sting operation five months after the slayings that he helped kidnap FK gang associate Aaron Bendle on Dec. 31, 2008, and kept him at gunpoint overnight to set up and kill FK gang member Sanjeev Mann.

He said he and two other gunmen went to the restaurant on the afternoon of Jan. 1, 2009, and he killed the target who had been sitting with two other people at a table at the back of the Vietnamese eatery.

City police homicide Det. Ric Buckley, who was called by the defence as a witness, told co-defence lawyer Greg Dunn that police had a great deal of holdback evidence that was never released to the media, and that it was secretly guarded.

That evidence included the calibre of guns used in the slayings of Bendle, 21, Mann, 23, and innocent bystander Keni S’ua, 43, and the fact a bullet had circumvented a bulletproof vest and killed Mann.

Honorio also was able to tell undercover officers the calibres of all three handguns during the undercover operation, although he also mentioned one other calibre not used.

Under cross-examination, Buckley told Crown prosecutor Rajbir Dhillon there was never a police release made about the Bendle kidnapping until after two other suspects were arrested on Aug. 11, 2009.

Calgary Herald reporter Jason van Rassel later testified he learned about the Bendle kidnapping sometime in the last half of June 2009, shortly after Honorio was arrested on June 8, following the three-month undercover operation.

However, van Rassel told Dunn it was not until Aug. 12, 2009, that he had written details of the kidnapping. He said none of his sources were gang-related.

“This was the first time any media outlet published the fact Bendle was kidnapped the night before, to set up a meeting with Mann, so they could kill Mann,” said van Rassel.

Van Rassel also confirmed that police had never released the calibres of the weapons used in the shootings at Bolsa.

In the undercover operation, Honorio told Sgt. Darren Berglind, who played the boss of the fictitious international criminal organization that he had been enticed to join, extensive details of the killings.

Honorio said he was one of the shooters who went into the restaurant, and that he had shot Mann as retribution for him going to his home and threatening his parents for Honorio, a member of the 403 Soldiers gang, selling guns to FK rival FOB gang members.

He said his two accomplices, whom he knew as Nate and Eric, also targeted Mann as payback for having wounded FOB members in a shootout in Chinatown in downtown Calgary in late 2008.

Honorio said he had joined forces with the friendly FOBs to kidnap Bendle.

One witness said Bendle had to be killed because he saw people and knew their names from the 12 hours he was held hostage.

Nathan Zuccherato, 25, believed to be whom Honorio referred to as Nate, and Michael Roberto, 28, believed to be Eric, were each convicted by a jury in October of three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the massacre.

They were sentenced to the mandatory life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The defence case continues Thursday before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman and a jury.