Judge gives in­struc­tions to jury in mur­der trial

The Prince George Citizen - - News - Camille BAINS

VAN­COU­VER — Ju­rors will need to use their com­mon sense in as­sess­ing the re­li­a­bil­ity of an al­leged con­fes­sion by a man ac­cused of killing a 12-year-old girl, a Bri­tish Columbia Supreme Court judge says.

In his in­struc­tions to the jury on Fri­day, Jus­tice Austin Cullen said an un­der­cover po­lice of­fi­cer pos­ing as a crime boss pro­vided fi­nan­cial and so­cial in­duce­ments to Garry Han­dlen but the man was never threat­ened.

Han­dlen has pleaded not guilty to the first-de­gree mur­der of Mon­ica Jack near her home in Mer­ritt in May 1978.

Her re­mains were found 17 years later, on a nearby moun­tain where Han­dlen told the sup­posed crime boss in Novem­ber 2014 that he sex­u­ally as­saulted and killed her af­ter ab­duct­ing her from a pull­out on a high­way.

He said he threw Jack’s bike in Nicola Lake, forced her into the bath­room of his camper and drove his Chevy pickup up a steep hill, where he sex­u­ally as­saulted her, killed her and burned her clothes and parts of her body.

“What I know for sure is I went up a dirt road off the high­way, up a hill, some­where in the Mer­ritt area and I left her body up there,” he told the un­der­cover of­fi­cer in a hid­den-cam­era video record­ing shown ear­lier in court.

The RCMP be­gan a nine-month so-called Mr. Big sting in Min­den, Ont., in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

Un­der­cover op­er­a­tives paid for his meals, drinks and ho­tel stays in cities in­clud­ing Toronto, Ot­tawa and Hal­i­fax and hired him for le­gal and il­le­gal jobs such as loan shark­ing.

The trial heard that the fi­nal in­duce­ment came when the sup­posed crime boss falsely told Han­dlen po­lice had DNA link­ing him to Jack’s mur­der and wit­nesses could place him at the crime scene but “things could be done to take care of it” if he told the truth.

It’s up to ju­rors to de­cide the ex­tent to which Han­dlen could have been in­flu­enced to ad­mit to killing the girl, Cullen said.

He said Han­dlen’s claims that Jack was sex­u­ally as­saulted, mur­dered and her clothes and parts of her body were burned could not be ver­i­fied.

In the video, Han­dlen is told a for­mer em­ployee who is sick would take the blame for the mur­der but he must pro­vide enough de­tails to at least con­fuse in­ves­ti­ga­tors as the group works to get rid of the DNA.

As Han­dlen be­gins to talk about what he al­legedly did, he re­peats five times that he stran­gled Jack and later re­peat­edly ex­presses re­lief.

“It’s a weight off my shoul­der now, I’ve told you. So I’m not the only one that knows now.”

The boss tells him he could re­pay his debt by do­ing more work for the group.

“I’m in­debted for life now,” Han­dlen says. “That’s the way it goes. Yes, I ap­pre­ci­ate it more than any­thing, more than I can even say. There’s just not enough words to say it other than say­ing thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Cullen pointed out sev­eral lies Han­dlen told un­der­cover po­lice, start­ing with say­ing he could wa­ter ski on one ski, but con­tin­u­ing with fibs even af­ter be­ing lec­tured by the crime group to stop. Even then, Han­dlen lied re­peat­edly, say­ing, for ex­am­ple, that he was once a mem­ber of the Bri­tish army’s Spe­cial Air Ser­vice, that he’d rid­den horses in Ari­zona and had eaten kan­ga­roo meat in Aus­tralia.

Pa­trick Angly, Han­dlen’s de­fence lawyer, has urged the jury not to ac­cept the al­leged con­fes­sion, say­ing it was co­erced.

How­ever, Crown coun­sel Gor­don Matei said in clos­ing ar­gu­ments that Han­dlen was mo­ti­vated by the be­lief he would es­cape pros­e­cu­tion and was re­lieved to di­vulge a se­cret he’d car­ried with him for 36 years.

Cullen has told ju­rors it’s up to the Crown to prove its case be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.

“Mr. Han­dlen doesn’t have to prove any­thing,” he said.

The trial be­gan in Oc­to­ber with 14 ju­rors to en­sure enough peo­ple would be avail­able to de­lib­er­ate. Un­der the law, crim­i­nal tri­als re­quire only 12 ju­rors to par­tic­i­pate in de­lib­er­a­tions, and in this case they will be cho­sen by draw­ing num­bers.

Teen gets life for his part in swarm­ing death

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