Surrey Six Trial: 'They saw our faces, we had no choice'
Former Red Scorpion gang leader Michael Le said he had just finished test-driving luxury cars on Oct. 19, 2007 when he received a panicked call from fellow gangster Matthew Johnston, who said he needed to meet him urgently.
The pair met at a shopping plaza where Johnston revealed that the murder of a rival drug dealer in Surrey did not go as planned.
"Mike, I'm sorry, but we killed Eddie," Le said Johnston told him, referring to Eddie Narong, a friend of Le's since middle school.
Le – who struck a plea deal in November and admitted to his role in the Surrey Six murders – began testifying against his two former co-accused on Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
Cody Haevischer and Johnston are currently on trial, each facing six counts of first-degree murder in connection with the execution-style shooting of six men in a Surrey apartment building on Oct. 19, 2007.
Le said Johnston went on to tell him that Narong showed up at the apartment where a hit was planned on Corey Lal. Not only were Narong and Lal killed, Le said Johnston told him, but four other men as well: Lal's brother Michael, Ryan Bartolomeo and two bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time – fireplace repairman Ed Schellenberg and student Chris Mohan, who lived in a neighbouring suite.
"You're an idiot. Why did you kill so many people?" Le said he asked Johnston.
Johnston, he said, replied: "Mike, they saw our faces, we had no choice."
Le, now 29, was originally charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in connection with the case, but pleaded guilty to only the conspiracy charge late last year. He received a 12-year jail sentence, minus double credit for the four-and-a-half years he'd already served, leaving about three years remaining in his sentence.
The media was banned from reporting details of his plan to work with Crown and testify against Haevischer and Johnston until Monday, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge set aside the publication ban. Publication of Le's image or description of him are still banned.
Le testified Tuesday that days after talking to Johnston, he also met with Haevischer. He said the two communicated using an erasable white board – something the gangsters often used in case their conversations were being recorded.
"He wrote down 'six people got killed'," Le told the court, adding Haevischer indicated he had shot three and another gangster (Person X, who pleaded guilty in 2009 and cannot be named) shot the other three victims.
Earlier in the day, Le testified that Corey Lal became a target due to an ongoing dispute with Jamie Bacon, the other leader of the Red Scorpions. Bacon's crew had merged with Le's earlier in 2007.
Talk about friction between Bacon and Corey Lal began shortly after the merger, Le said, noting Lal was partners with Narong in the drug trade. They got their heroin from Sophon Sek, (who is also charged in connection with the Surrey Six case but is being tried separately), said Le.
Because of his friendship with Narong, Le said he even met with Lal to attempt to iron out the issues between Lal and Bacon. But the problems persisted.
"He's a little bitch, I'm going to jack him," Le said Bacon told him.
The Crown's theory is that while Lal was the intended target of the 2007 slaughter, the five others were killed to eliminate any witnesses. It's alleged Bacon (along with Le) enlisted Haevischer, Johnston and Person X to carry out the hit.
During his November guilty plea, Le admitted he gave the go-ahead for Lal's murder, but never intended for the other five to be killed.
Bacon is charged with one count of first-degree murder and one of conspiracy to murder Lal, but is being tried separately at a later date.
The trial of Haevischer and Johnston has been adjourned until April 23, when defence lawyers are expected to begin cross-examination of Le.