Christina Asp is guilty of second-degree murder, jurors announced just past 4 p.m. on Friday.
The 34-year-old was charged with first-degree murder for the death of Gordon Seybold, whose charred body was found in what was left of his torched Ibex Valley home in 2008.
Asp had told undercover officers posing as a crime boss family that she hit Seybold with a bat and heard his skull crack.
But she later testified on the witness stand that she lied in order to fit in with her new employers, and, in fact, she only watched as her boyfriend, Norman Larue, beat Seybold to death and set his house on fire.
In finding Asp guilty of second-degree murder, jurors concluded that Asp intended to kill Seybold, but they rejected the Crown’s assertion that the killing was planned in advance.
The jury was instructed to keep their deliberations secret, so the particular reasoning for the judgement is not known.
Asp’s conviction comes with an automatic sentence of life in prison. However, the judge could find that Asp, 34, is eligible for parole after serving anywhere from 10 to 25 years of her sentence.
Controversial “Mr. Big” operations can result in false confessions, police testified, but the jury did not have to believe that Asp actually struck Seybold in order to find her guilty of the crime.
Prosecutors argued that Asp could be found equally guilty as a party to the murder committed by Larue, either because she helped him or because they were united in a common purpose.
This is not the first time that Asp has been found culpable in a homicide. She had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2004 death of her sometimes partner, Keith Blanchard.
Blanchard died from a single stab wound to the chest.
Asp and Blanchard had been arguing and fighting that night, said the owner of the residence where Blanchard’s body was found.
Both Asp and Blanchard had elevated blood-alcohol levels at the time she stabbed him.
She was on parole for that crime at the time of Seybold’s death.
Asp had met Larue at a B.C. halfway house, and they had decided to run away to the Yukon together.
The jury knew that Asp was on parole when Seybold died, and knew that she had been in prison. However, they were not aware of the manslaughter conviction.
Justice Leigh Gower determined that that information would be too prejudicial to the trial.
As an automatic condition of the verdict, Gower asked the jury to make recommendations on when Asp should be eligible for parole.
He asked them to consider her character as well the nature and severity of the offence in making their recommendations.
Each juror could decide for him- or herself to recommend a number of years between 10 and 25, or to abstain from making a recommendation.
All but two of the jurors suggested that Asp should serve more than the minimum 10 years before being eligible for parole, and six agreed that she should serve 16 years.
One juror recommended the minimum 10 years, and one abstained from choosing. The most recommended by any one juror was 20 years without chance of parole.
While the jurors have been thanked for their service and dismissed, the trial is not quite over.
New evidence may be called in front of the judge to help him make his final determination on the sentence. Judge and counsel have agreed to reconvene on July 24 to set a date for sentencing.
Larue is still waiting his turn to stand trial on charges of first degree murder and arson in the death of Seybold. Those proceedings are expected to begin next year.
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