Fate of accused Bolsa shooter in jury’s hands
CALGARY — The fate of a 28-year-old Calgary man charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two rival gang members and a bystander at Bolsa Restaurant on New Year’s Day 2009 is in the hands of a jury.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman turned the case of Real Christian Honorio over to the eight-man, four-woman jury at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday after spending more than two hours giving them final instructions.
Poelman cited several key pieces of evidence against Honorio that must be weighed by the jury, in particular a lengthy interview with city police undercover officers Det. Rey Bangloy and Sgt. Darren Berglind on June 2, 2009, at a Vancouver hotel.
The judge told the jury it would probably believe, based on the testimony of Bangloy and Berglind, that Honorio was the target of an extensive and sophisticated three-month undercover police operation.
He said that through this operation, Bangloy testified, police hoped to obtain information about the Bolsa murders and verify whether, as they suspected, Honorio was one of the shooters.
“When looking at all the evidence about the undercover operation, including Mr. Honorio’s statements themselves, carefully consider what Mr. Honorio said to Det. Bangloy and Sgt. Berglind, what he meant by it, and the reliability or truthfulness of what he said,” said the judge. “As part of those considerations, determine whether you believe Mr. Honorio was coerced, pressured, threatened, influenced or induced to say whatever things you conclude he said; and if he said those things while coerced, pressured, threatened, influenced or induced, determine whether you believe he was untruthful or unreliable in what he said, entirely or in part.”
The video of the undercover interview was released to the media by the judge after the jury was sequestered on Tuesday.
Defence lawyers Greg Dunn and Tonii Roulston, who have repeatedly argued that Honorio lied to the officers about his involvement to gain full-time employment with their fictitious criminal organization, agreed the public should be able to see the interview.
Honorio is one of three men alleged to have kidnapped FK gang associate Aaron Bendle, 21, and held him overnight to get him to contact FK member Sanjeev Mann so they could set him up to kill him as revenge for a dispute between the FOBs and FKs.
Bendle and Mann were shot by two masked men inside the restaurant.
Keni S’ua, 43, who was a regular customer at the Vietnamese eatery with no ties to either group, was shot by a third gunman when he ran out into the parking lot after the shooting started.
The judge also noted the testimony of two other men — M.M. and C.E. — who corroborated much of what Honorio told the undercover officers.
M.M., who admitted he was involved in the kidnapping and plan to kill Mann, has been given immunity from prosecution for testifying truthfully at this trial and the trial of two other men, who were convicted of three counts of first-degree murder last October.
Nathan Zuccherato, 25, and Michael Roberto, 28, were each sent to prison for life with no chance of parole for 25 years.
In his final argument on Monday, Crown prosecutor Rajbir Dhillon told the jury the evidence is “overwhelming” that Honorio was one of the shooters.
The prosecutor pointed to statements Honorio made to the undercover police officers, whom he had joined as part of a fictitious criminal organization and was trying to get on with them full time.
Dhillon noted numerous pieces of evidence that Honorio gave to Bangloy and Berglind that showed he had intimate knowledge of what transpired on Jan. 1, 2009, and were corroborated by the two key Crown witnesses — M.M. and C.E.
Dunn had argued Honorio should be acquitted because there is no forensic evidence to say he was one of the killers.
Dunn said there are no fingerprints at the scene that were Honorio’s, no drop of blood, no gun that matched the bullet of the gun used, no hair follicle and no photograph.
He said there is a dearth of direct forensic evidence and no circumstantial forensic evidence.