Carcross murder trial begins

When his remains were found last winter, Robert Olson could only be identified by his fingerprints. Police found his mutilated body in the Wolf…

When his remains were found last winter, Robert Olson could only be identified by his fingerprints.

Police found his mutilated body in the Wolf Creek subdivision, about three days after he was killed, sometime between December 23 and 24, 2004.

Dean Boucher (often called Dean Johns) and Mark Lange, have been both been charged with second-degree murder.

Their trial began Monday in Yukon Supreme Court.

What happened between Olson and the two men around Christmas Eve two years ago?

The jury of eight women and four men, is charged with piecing that night together and deciding what role each man played in Olson’s death.

A trial is not like seeing a complete picture, it’s like having each line of a picture drawn out before you, Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower told the jury, urging them to keep an open mind until they’ve heard all the evidence.

This is the picture Crown prosecutor Edith Campbell drew to open the case.

The night that Olson was killed, Boucher and Lange were seen together in Carcross.

At around 11:30 p.m. on December 23, they entered the Caribou Hotel, she said.

Olson had taken over the seedy bar in downtown Carcross from his father. It was a hard-drinking dive, wracked by bar fights, thefts and numerous liquor licence violations.

However, in December 2004 the bar was closed. Olson had put the establishment up for sale and was the only person living there.

 Sometime between 11:30 p.m. on the 23rd and the early morning hours of the 24th, Boucher and Lange robbed and “both participated in the brutal beating of Mr. Olson,” Campbell told the court.

While he was lying on the floor “dying of his injuries,” they stole his artwork. Then they tossed his body into the box of his own truck.

The two men drove past the RCMP station and the nursing station on their way out of Carcross, but didn’t stop.

Instead, they headed north to Whitehorse, dumping Olson’s body in the “ditch of a quiet road” in the Wolf Creek subdivision.

It wasn’t a clean getaway, however.

Olson’s truck got stuck in a snow bank, leaving Boucher and Lange to trudge from Wolf Creek across the Alaska Highway to the Petro-Canada gas station in the McCrae subdivision.

Boucher and Lange committed second-degree murder, according to the Crown.

They inflicted injuries so serious and obvious, both of the men should have known Olson was likely to die, said Campbell.

They were reckless in whether he died, she said citing a key legal component in prosecuting a second-degree murder charge.

Numerous witnesses have been called to the stand to corroborate parts of the Crown’s case.

Roberta James, Boucher’s aunt, has known the heavy-set man since he was infant.

Around 8 p.m. on December 23rd, her son, Howard, called her for a ride.

When she went to pick him up in the Chootla subdivison, across the Nares River from downtown Carcross, Boucher and Lange also climbed into her car.

Her son got out of the car after getting into an argument with Boucher.

Then, she dropped Boucher and Lange off at the railway bridge, although they’d asked for a ride across the river.

“It was cold and the wind was blowing,” she said, adding that it was a close walk into town from where she left the two men.

“They walked to the left, to go across the river I would imagine.”

While she believed they’d been drinking, they weren’t drunk, she told the court.

James then continued home.

RCMP Const. Jeffrey Kalles was the only police officer in Carcross that night.

He’d worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but was called in after hours to search for a runaway youth.

At around 11:25 p.m. he was driving on the south side of the Nares River when he saw two people walking across the railway bridge into town.

Thinking it might be the youth, he crossed the river and looped back to park on the north side of the footbridge.

He recognized Boucher, who immediately asked him for a ride, and saw a figure in dark clothes and a hood standing on the bridge.

While he had had “pleasant conversations” with Boucher in the past, this was not one of them.

When Kalles agreed to give them a lift, offering the back seat, Boucher started using “abusive language,” throwing his arms up in the air and walking towards the RCMP Suburban.

“I was the only police officer in Carcross and I didn’t feel comfortable getting out of my car with (Boucher) there,” said Kalles.

“I did not want to get in a confrontation with (Boucher).”

So, Kalles drove around the block and passed by the area a few minutes later.

This time, he saw Lange standing in an intersection, just north of the Caribou Hotel.

Kalles asked Lange what he was doing in Carcross.

“I’m 30 years old and I can visit anyone I want,” Kalles said Lange told him.

“I want to be left alone to gather my thoughts,” he told the police officer.

When pressed by Boucher’s attorney, Keith Parkkari, about whether he asked Lange why he needed to think, Kalles said no.

“There are individuals who just don’t want to talk to police.”

The constable then circled the block one last time before going home.

At first, he didn’t see Boucher or Lange.

However, as he was driving away he saw Lange standing behind Olson’s truck, which was parked before the Caribou Hotel, in the rearview mirror of his cruiser.

A few hours later, sometime between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., Boucher and Lange walked into the Petro-Canada station in the McCrae subdivison, asking for a tow.

The owner, Michael Wren, told the court he had a diesel truck that would have taken a few hours to warm up.

He suggested Boucher call another company in town.

The night attendant at the time, Evan Coldwell, said he walked with the men from the garage to the store and helped them phone a cab.

Lange said very little, noting that a few scratches on his face were from wrestling with Boucher, Coldwell told the court.

Wren came in from the garage and chatted with Boucher while they waited for their taxi.

Boucher ate a sandwich and a juice.

When he went to put the sandwich in his mouth, Wren noticed his hands were covered in blood.

“It appeared to cover most of his exposed skin,” said Wren.

When he asked Boucher where the blood came from, he answered he’d hit his sister in the face and her nose started bleeding profusely.

Lange piped in that she’s “tough,” according to Coldwell.

Two disjointed phrases stuck out in Wren’s memory from that night.

Boucher told him, “the devil made me do it” and “that he was going away for four years.”

Boucher was “agitated and apprehensive,” he added.

“I could feel the actual counter rocking, sort of a rhythmic motion.”

Although this behaviour “wouldn’t have been unusual,” for someone who’d banked their car in a snowbank, Wren said.

When the taxi arrived the two men had a mumbled conversation by the door, then headed off towards town.

They bartered a fare of $15 and a pack of smokes to get to the Pioneer Inn, according to Crown prosecutor John Phelps.

Both men are pleading not guilty to murder.

They did, however, plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, said Gower.

The Crown has refused their manslaughter plea.

The trial is scheduled to last four weeks.