The trial of three men accused in the execution-style shootings of six men in a Surrey high-rise was taken on a vivid and disturbing tour of the apartment where the killings occurred through video and still-photo crime-scene footage.
As the trial began its third week on Tuesday, court was shown police video footage of the 15th-floor unit. It revealed the six men in two groups of three lying on the floor amid streaks of blood and shell casings following the shootings on Oct. 19, 2007.
Clearly visible were 22-year-old Chris Mohan and 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg, two innocent bystanders to one of B.C.’s worst-ever gang slayings. Mr. Mohan lived across the hall from the apartment and somehow ended up inside. Mr. Schellenberg was a fireplace repairman servicing units in the complex.
Later in the day came still photos of the crime scene. In both cases, Justice Catherine Wedge warned the court that the material was going to be disturbing.
The footage was visible on large flat-screen TVs set up for maximum visibility. The gruesome images were also visible on a desktop monitor close to the bulletproof glass separating about 18 spectators from the rest of the court. Spectators included students from a Chilliwack high school present for a law-class assignment. “That was intense,” a Grade 12 student said afterwards.
The three accused also looked on. Charged in the killings are Cody Rae Haevischer, 29, Michael Le, 28, and 29-year-old Matthew Johnston. All have entered not-guilty pleas.
Eileen Mohan, the mother of Chris Mohan, left the court to avoid the images of her only child.
RCMP Staff-Sergeant David Teboul had a decade of experience as a Mountie when he came to the apartment the night of the killings – a “chaotic scene” in which police officers had set up a perimeter around the building where the bodies had earlier been found. The officer was assigned to be crime-scene manager.
But it wasn’t until the next day, he told the court, that he actually went into the apartment to get a sense of the crime scene, and begin to plan how to proceed. “What I saw was a scene that was nothing short of horrific – even for a seasoned investigator,” he said.
“There was a fair amount of blood on the floor,” he testified. There were also shell casings and a pistol near one of the bodies. He said the smell was familiar from years of police work – the odour of crack cocaine. Staff Sgt. Teboul said he saw crack on the stove in the kitchen. The Crown has alleged the apartment was a storehouse for drugs and cash, and the killings occurred due to a conflict between the Red Scorpions gang and the renter of the apartment.
The video and still footage showed an otherwise immaculate apartment, including a kitchen and bathroom with spotless counters. In the sink of one of two bathrooms, there were a pile of batteries. On the counter of one bathroom, there was a single can of Coca-Cola.
“I was left with the impression the apartment wasn’t lived in on a regular, permanent basis,“ the officer said.