Crown challenges 'involved' defence
Crown prosecutor Joseph Temple worked to cast doubt on Cody Allan Legebokoff's account of the deaths of the three woman and one teenage girl he is accused of murdering during cross examination Wednesday at the Prince George courthouse.
When he testified in his defence on Tuesday, Legebokoff maintained that - while he was "involved" in the killings of Jill Stacey Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Frances Maas, 35, and Natasha Lynn Montgomery, 23 - three people he has only identified as X, Y and Z committed the actual murders.
As for Loren Donn Leslie, the partially blind 15-year-old girl found Nov. 27, 2010 in the snow near a gravel pit north of Vanderhoof, Legebokoff conceded he did strike her in the head with a pipe wrench but has not admitted killing her.
The day-long exchange Wednesday before a 14-person jury and about 50 onlookers from the gallery was often confrontational as Temple challenged Legebokoff's version of the events. More than once, Temple asserted Legebokoff committed the murders and made up the story about X, Y and Z with the accused replying "no, I did not."
Legebokoff was also combative and testy as Temple tried to tease details out of him, providing terse answers to questions about what people were wearing, where they were positioned and sequences of events.
"I didn't take observations or take notes or anything on how he did it, which way he did it, or how far the cut went or how deep the cut was, I didn't take those kind of observations," Legebokoff protested when pressed on his contention he handed Z a kitchen knife to finish off Montgomery after X had beaten her with a steel bar while chasing her through Legebokoff's apartment.
Temple highlighted apparent discrepancies between what Legebokoff had to say and the evidence that had been presented during the trial, which began June 2.
He said Legebokoff's assertion that X had struck Montgomery at the end of the hallway and just after she got out of the bathroom failed to account for her blood found splattered all over his bedroom.
Temple also noted that contrary to Legebokoff's contention that Leslie stabbed herself while immediately in front of his pickup truck, her blood and her iPod were found some distance away, suggesting he had chased her.
On that point, Temple noted that when Legebokoff was talking to police during the two days after his arrest in November 2010, he said Leslie was "trying to make a run" and suggested Legebokoff had stopped himself short of adding the words "for it," because that would indicate he was pursuing her.
Legebokoff had told the court Leslie went "flying off the handle" and hit herself with a pipe wrench and then stabbed herself with a utility tool knife she somehow found in the cab of his truck. Temple suggested opening a utility tool can be complicated and yet Legebokoff gave no account of performing the motions to get a knife out.
When Temple said evidence showed Leslie's ring finger was broken, suggesting she was trying to protect herself while he hit her with the pipe wrench, Legebokoff said he had stepped on her hands in the process of dragging her away.
"With running shoes?" Temple asked.
"A 250-pound guy stepping on her and rocks being underneath the snow, yeah," Legebokoff replied.
Temple also said the significant amount of blood from Stuchenko that was found on Legebokoff's couch conflicted with his story that X had struck her with a pipe and suggested that in actual fact he committed the murder.
"You hit her on the head, you stunned her, you punched her just as you described Mr. X did, and then you stabbed her in the neck and then you watched while she bled to death on your couch and then you took her body out in your truck and tried to bury her in the gravel pit," Temple said.
Legebokoff replied with a denial.
Stuchenko's body was found Oct. 20, 2009 in a gravel pit near Foothills Boulevard and Otway Road.
A fair amount of time was devoted to Temple going through the interviews Legebokoff gave police, with the accused agreeing that he had not been telling Mounties the truth. Temple implied that Legebokoff was still lying when he presented his latest story to the jury and drew on the similarities between an initial story he gave police and his claim X, Y and Z committed the murders.
When police noticed blood in his truck after he was pulled over on the night of Nov. 27, 2010 along Highway 27, he first told RCMP a friend, Thomas Russell, had shot a deer and that Legebokoff then used a pipe wrench to beat it and then a utility tool knife to kill it.
Legebokoff agreed with Temple that the story was a "complete fabrication." Temple went on to describe similarities between that story and the ones he gave about the deaths of Stuchenko, Maas and Montgomery.
"Of course, the important thing about it is that the main actor in each case, Mr. X or Thomas Russell, has vanished into the night, leaving Mr. Legebokoff to tell the tale to the police," Temple said.
Temple told Legebokoff the positions of Leslie's and Maas' bodies were found in were similar (both with their pants and underwear down around their ankles) and contended that's because he dragged the two into the bush in similar fashions, which Legebokoff also denied.
Temple questioned the credibility of other aspects of Legebokoff's story, including the assertion that X killed Stuchenko over the October 2009 Thanksgiving long weekend in the basement suite of the Prince George home where Legebokoff had been living for only a short time after moving from Fort St. James.
"You expect the jury to believe that you were so trusted by this drug dealer that he was willing to commit a murder in your presence after only a month-and-a-half's acquaintance, that's your evidence?" Temple asked Legebokoff, who replied with a yes.
Although Temple said no DNA evidence was found, Legebokoff continued to maintain he twice had sex with Leslie on the night her body was found. Temple replied that Legebokoff had attacked Leslie because she refused to have sex with him.
Even if the story about X, Y and Z was true, Temple suggested Legebokoff remained in deep trouble because he supplied the murder weapon in all three instances and despite knowing what the perpetrators planned to do with them.
"I was also under the influence of drugs at that time and wasn't really [with it]," Legebokoff replied when Temple once again touched on the story about Montgomery. "I just passed him the knife."
As he did on Tuesday, Legebokoff continued to refuse to provide the names of the three men he said killed Stuchenko, Maas and Montgomery. Legebokoff had said he did not want to go to prison with the reputation as a "rat" by giving their names.
In response, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett said an application for contempt of court against Legebokoff will be heard at the trial's conclusion.
Closing arguments from Crown prosecution and defence counsels will begin Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
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