Dean Boucher and Mark Lange were convicted of murder in Yukon Supreme Court Friday.
Ending a four-week trial, the 12-person jury found both men guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of Robert Olson.
The 64-year-old Carcross hotelier died of head injuries after a savage beating in the saloon of the Caribou Hotel in Carcross, between December 23 and 24, 2004.
Olson was described by a friend as “a man without brakes” who was “drinking every day.”
“At that point in time, I think pretty well anyone could flag him down with a bottle,” said Herbert Holstein early in the trial.
But the autopsy found no alcohol in his blood the night he died.
It’s not clear exactly how events spiraled out of control that December night just before Christmas. The Crown and each defence lawyer had competing theories for what the evidence meant.
Boucher and Lange blamed each other for dealing Olson the fatal blows. According to forensic pathology reports, he suffered at least 15 injuries, mostly to the face.
As he lay bleeding and unconscious on the floor, the two men robbed Olson of art from the barroom walls and pocketed a few beers, before loading his body into the back of his own pickup truck.
Driving north towards Whitehorse, they stopped at some point, during the cold early morning hours of Christmas Eve, to check on him.
Olson was dead.
Lange said he knew Olson was dead because he’d seen death before. His father was a trapper.
Boucher tried to revive Olson with CPR, to no avail.
Then they dumped Olson’s body in a snowy ditch in Wolf Creek subdivision, south of Whitehorse.
Police found the remains a few days later, on December 27.
Boucher turned himself in that day. A few days later, Lange did the same.
While the courtroom had seen few visitors throughout the trial, the long wooden benches filled up when the verdict came down late Friday afternoon.
After about two days of deliberation, the eight women and four men of the jury returned with their unanimous verdict of guilty for both Boucher and Lange.
Sitting with his hands folded in his lap, Lange was in red jail scrubs and a blue long-sleeved shirt he’d been wearing throughout the trial.
The small, thin man, who Boucher called his “little ninja” did not say a word to the court, but was often writing notes and speaking quietly to his lawyer, Andre Roothman.
Boucher, tall and heavy-set, is more commonly known as Dean Johns. He was in a white, buttoned shirt and a red vest with a First Nations pattern on the back.
As he has been for weeks, Boucher was holding an eagle feather in his hands.
After court closed Friday, Crown attorney John Phelps said he was relieved with the verdict. The Crown sought murder convictions for both men.
Having two accused made the case complicated, particularly with only Boucher taking the stand, he said.
“It becomes very complex for the jury to sift through the evidence,” said Phelps.
While he and his co-counsel, Edith Campbell, were anxiously awaiting the jury’s decision, they were not nervous.
“We were confident coming into the trial that we had a good chance of conviction,” said Phelps outside the courtroom.
The verdict was not what Roothman was seeking for Lange, however.
“One always hopes for better,” he said Friday afternoon.
“I think I was more optimistic of getting manslaughter.”
The jury’s decision was unexpected, he added.
“I was not surprised Boucher got it, but I was surprised for Lange.”
While Boucher testified, Lange did not.
Roothman stood by the decision for Lange to remain silent.
“I’m still convinced it was the right call not to put Lange on the stand,” said Roothman outside the courtroom.
The case was complex because it was not only the Crown against the two defendants, but also Boucher and Lange against each other, he said.
“There are all kinds of underlying subtleties.”
The Crown thought Lange was going to testify.
“We were expecting Mark Lange to take the stand and we were quite surprised when he chose not to,” said Phelps.
While the two men have not yet been sentenced, the jury made a recommendation for how many years Lange should spend behind bars.
Eight of the 12 jurors suggested he be eligible for parole after serving the minimum time of 10 years.
It had no suggestion for Boucher.
Because the two men have been convicted of murder, they will both receive a life sentence. This means they must spend between 10 to 25 years in a federal penitentiary before being considered for parole.
Presiding Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower is scheduled to sentence Boucher and Lange Thursday morning.
Neither Roothman nor Boucher’s lawyer, Keith Parkkari, know yet if the men are going to appeal the convictions.
They will each have 30 days after their sentencing to appeal, said Parkkari.