The application to drop charges against Jujhar Khun-Khun, Jason McBride and Michael Jones was dismissed Monday by BC Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton. He will be providing his reasons in the days to come.
With that squared away, the second week of the estimated 10-month trial got underway Monday.
On Aug. 14, 2011 downtown Kelowna was thrown into chaos when a vehicle carrying some known Vancouver area gangsters was gunned down.
Jonathan Bacon died at the scene, Leah Hadden-Watts was shot in the neck and rendered a paraplegic, Larry Amero was shot in the face, wrist and chest and Lyndsey Black was shot through both upper legs. James Riach escaped injury.
Khun-Khun, McBride and Jones were arrested in 2013 and each face a charge of murder, four charges of attempted murder and various firearm offences.
If one thing has been made abundantly clear in the trial for the three men accused in the 2011 killing of Red Scorpion gang leader Jonathan Bacon, it’s that nobody cared to be discreet.
There were countless witnesses who caught a glimpse of the Porsche Cayenne being gunned down outside the Delta Grand Hotel Aug. 14, 2011. Those witnesses were children, the elderly, men and women at work or just tourists soaking in the calm of a picturesque summer’s day.
Their fleeting observations—even the most banal—are being patched together by Crown counsel to create a more complete picture of the violence that ensnared Kelowna six years ago.
Ingrid Merkus, for example, was a visitor to the area and on the day of the shooting she and her sister had gone for coffee at what was likely the Bean Scene on Ellis, although she could only vaguely describe the location.
She’d just stepped onto the small balcony when there were popping sounds that she thought might be a car back-firing, a gunshot or some fireworks.
“It was fairly quickly, but not as quickly as, say, a machine gun,” she said to BC Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton, Tuesday.
From her vantage point she could see people running away from the hotel and she realized it was gunfire and told her sister to step back into the coffee shop.
Merkus said she stayed where she was and saw a light coloured SUV with a seemingly fresh dent speed by.
She also had a view of the driver and the body of the passenger, who she said was leaning out the window obscuring his head from view.
The driver was wearing a light coloured shirt, with long sleeves that had been pushed up, she told Betton. He had short hair that was well manicured and he was clean shaven. He also had an olive complexion and his hair was black.
Markus said he was holding up his hand to obscure his face when he drove by, though she somehow determined it was a man in his mid to late 20s speeding past.
She told the court that the person was olive-skinned, possibly “Greek, Italian or half East Indian.”
Defence lawyers pointed out that Merkus had in one of two previous police interviews said that the man she saw was caucasian with a deep tan. She said she didn’t remember saying that.
It’s not the first time that skin tone has been discussed. Several earlier witnesses testified that they believed at least one of the masked gunman to have been Indo-Canadian. In those cases defence lawyers also questioned the veracity of the testimony offered in court.
Others have simply offered insights into the shape of the men who shot down the vehicle. One shooter was thinner, according to several witnesses. The other was stockier and both were clad in black with a balaclava pulled over their faces.
Another common theme in the testimony to date has been simply the surreal nature of the events that played out that day.
Stephanie Bjarnason testified last week that she looked into the sky above the Delta Grand Hotel Aug. 14, 2011, to spot the fireworks she thought she’d just heard.
When nothing appeared she looked down and saw something completely unexpected.
“I saw people with guns and my first thought was, ‘they’re making a movie,’” she testified Wednesday. “I (saw) a light coloured SUV and remember seeing one individual in black running toward the vehicle … crouched over.”
They then started shooting.
At that point Stephanie, who was with her husband Robert, turned toward the casino and ran.
She got inside the doors yelled at people to stay inside because there was a shooting underway, and turned to see where her husband was.
He hadn’t run when gunfire shattered the calm of the tourism hot-spot.
“I heard a lady shouting at me from across the street (in the Prospera Place parking lot) to come and seek cover,” Robert said, adding he declined because it was at that point his wife emerged from the casino and they tentatively returned to the scene of the shooting.
At the scene the police found 45 expended cartridge cases, two live rounds and numerous bullet fragments.
Crown counsel Dave Ruse has said in opening comments the crime was the product of a Lower Mainland gang war.