The first-degree murder trial of Christina Asp, who is charged in connection with the death of Gordon Seybold, started hearing testimony this week.
The 63-year-old man’s remains were found in his torched Ibex Valley home in 2008.
A police video of Asp, 34, was shown to the judge and jury on Wednesday in which Asp describes hearing Seybold’s skull crack after he was hit with a baseball bat.
The video was secretly taped in an Edmonton apartment in 2009.
In the video, off to the right of the frame, sits the “crime boss,” who is actually an undercover RCMP officer.
The female officer, and other undercover officers, have convinced Asp they are a major crime family - one that can make all of her problems with the police disappear.
But they will only help Asp if she is completely honest with them, the “crime boss” emphasized over and over again during the video. Then for the next 15 minutes or so Asp is questioned and explains in excruciating detail what happened.
The court was told Seybold had a fairly decent-size, marijuana grow-op on his property. Asp’s mother lived with her common-law husband in a guest cabin on Seybold’s property.
In the video, Asp tells the “crime boss” that her mother had spoken to Asp’s boyfriend, Norman Larue, about Seybold, before that spring morning in 2008 when the young couple drove out to Seybold’s Ibex Valley cabin.
“So the plan was just to eliminate him, get him out of the picture altogether,” the undercover cop said, and Asp agreed.
She then talked about what happened when they got to the cabin.
But the “crime boss” reminded Asp that they had checked the police’s database and she and Larue definitely had something to worry about.
“It’s not a problem that I can’t fix, mind you,” the undercover cop said, adding again that her “family” would only be willing to deal with it if Asp gave every little detail she could.
Asp told how Larue and Seybold got into a fist fight and, when Seybold seemed to be getting the upper hand, Asp picked up the baseball bat.
In the video, Asp said she hit him in the head three times and heard his skull crack. She said Larue continued to hit him and then set the cabin on fire.
The demand for every little detail continued as Asp explained how they backed into a tree on their way out of Seybold’s property and decided to cover it up by backing into a pole in an arena parking lot in Whitehorse later on.
Asp said in the video that they burned all the clothes they were wearing and later took her mom to the bar.
She also explained the names they used on their bus tickets down to Alberta about a week and a half later.
The video recorded Asp describing her alcoholic mother and how, as a young girl, Asp always had to protect her mother and her younger brothers and sisters.
After the prosecution was done presenting the tape, it was the defence lawyer’s turn.
B.C. lawyer Ken Tessovitch asked the undercover officer, who was on the witness stand, whether he was aware of how long the “crime family,” made up entirely of undercover cops, had been fostering a relationship with Asp.
He didn’t know, he said, as he was only called in to help facilitate the “crime-boss scenario” in the video.
Tessovitch asked if he was aware they had been providing Asp with a hotel, taking her out to restaurants and giving her alcohol.
He wasn’t aware of that, he said.
Tessovitch also asked whether he was aware that they had been trying to sell the “good life of crime” and had been giving gifts to Asp.
Noting that the witness is a bit of an expert on these “crime-boss scenarios,” Tessovitch asked if these operations ever use any form of brainwashing.
They didn’t, the witness professed.
Tessovitch was not convinced.
These “Mr. Big” operations, as they are called by police, involve many undercover officers all pretending to be criminals. In this case, the “Ms. Big” operation is the reason why this trial is expected to be the biggest in the territory’s history, both in time and cost.
And it was an operation that depended on lying to a vulnerable “target,” Tessovitch argued.
By the end of the week, the jury, made up of 12 women and two men, also heard from a former neighbour of Seybold’s who was the community’s volunteer fire chief. He helped put out the fire at the cabin.
The court also heard from Seybold’s former common-law wife who lived with him at his cabin for most of the 1980s. She testified that she told police she had concerns about Asp’s and Asp’s mother’s relationship with Seybold before his death.
She will return to the stand when the trial resumes on Monday.
The trial is scheduled to last for three months and to hear from more than 80 witnesses.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at