UN gang killer Cory Vallee should get a new trial: defence lawyer

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UN gang killer Cory Vallee should get a new trial: defence lawyer

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Eric Gottardi, judge who convicted gangsters for credibility of witnesses and belated disclosure of videos, told BC appeals court

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Kim Bolan

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Cory Vallee provided mug shots by police in 2011. Cory Vallee provided mug shots by police in 2011. Photo from PNG files

United Nations gang killer Cory Vallee should get a new trial for wrongly judging the credibility of former gangster star witnesses, Vallee’s attorney said Tuesday.

And Eric Gottardi told the British Columbia Court of Appeals that the trial judge also failed to fully recognize the impact on Vleee’s defense of the late release of a video showing him near the location in Langley where Red Scorpion Kevin LeClair was shot in 2009 have.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon convicted Vallee in June 2018 of the first degree murder of LeClair’s public assassination and of conspiracy to kill his Red Scorpion gangmates Jamie, Jarrod and Jonathan Bacon.

The former North Vancouver garbage collector was sentenced to two life sentences.

Gottardi said the convictions should be overturned for several reasons, including late disclosure and lack of scrutiny from unsavory ex-gangster witnesses known only as A, B, C, and D.

There was no evidence leading up to the trial to link Vallee to the murder other than testimony from B and C to police, he told Judges Mary Saunders, Patrice Abrioux and Peter Voith.

“And there was very little evidence of his association with members of the UN gang,” Gottardi said. “In the middle of the trial, the Crown released the video showing the appellate leader and (Witness B) at or near the crime scene, the murder of Kevin LeClair, just three hours before the shooting.”

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Gottardi said the late disclosure “fundamentally changed the legal evidence landscape that the defense had to deal with.”

He said defenders would likely have made different decisions on Vallee’s behalf at the start of the trial if they had known about the video.

For example, the defense admitted the existence of the murder conspiracy, Gottardi said, which they might not have admitted if they had the video at the time.

When they finally got the video, Vallee’s lawyers asked for trial and residency, but none were granted. Instead, Dillon allowed an adjournment so the defense “could consider the possibility of recalling witnesses”.

“We asserted here on appeal that the trial judge wrongly failed to recognize how the new disclosure affected the complainant and why the legal remedy provided was inadequate,” said Gottardi.

Kevin LeClair was shot dead in Langley in 2009 in an undated photo. Kevin LeClair was shot dead in Langley in 2009 in an undated photo. Photo from PNG files

As for the former UN members who became key witnesses, Dillon wrongly misjudged their credibility based on their known crime and the benefits they received for working together, he said.

The judge was more strict in her assessment of Peter Redekopp, a former employee of B and C, who stated that he could not provide C with an alibi for the day of the murder, as C had claimed.

“This evidence has greatly strengthened defense theory [C] was the real culprit, ”Gottardi said, noting that Dillon rejected Redekopp’s evidence in part because of his criminal history.

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“We say that they applied a different standard of review to the evidence of a defense-oriented witness than they did to the key witnesses … and we say that approach was fundamentally unfair.”

The appeal should last four days.

When Dillon condemned Vallee, she said it was necessary to send a strong message “that gang wars will not be tolerated on the streets of our communities”.

“This murder was carried out in daylight in the parking lot of a busy mall. He was the designated killer or marksman on this mission and has played his full role with an automatic weapon, ”said Dillon.

“These events were incredible, cinematic for citizens who don’t expect to find themselves in a gang war zone.”

More than a decade after the LeClair shots, both the UN and Red Scorpion gangs remain part of the lower mainland gang conflict.

The UN gangster Karman Grewal was shot dead at Vancouver International Airport on Sunday. On April 21, Todd Gouwenberg, a longtime UN member, was shot and killed at Langley Sportsplex, just 600 meters from where LeClair was killed.

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