Christina Asp lied about her role in Gordon Seybold’s death, either to the RCMP or on the witness stand at her own trial.
Last week jurors in Norman Larue’s murder trial heard tapes recorded by undercover police officers of Christina Asp explaining how she and Larue murdered Gordon Seybold with a baseball bat and burned down his cabin in 2008.
Larue is currently on trial for his role in the killing. Asp was convicted for her role at a jury trial last spring.
During Project Monsoon, the RCMP sting operation set up to catch Asp on tape confessing to the murders, Asp said that she and Larue had both taken part in the beating that killed Seybold.
On Tuesday, the jury heard tapes of Chistina Asp testifying at her own trial last year. She had been called to testify again in person at Larue’s trial, but refused and was held in contempt of court. Judge Scott Brooker decided to allow Asp’s previous testimony to stand in her place, but warned the jury to be extra vigilant for contradictions because Larue’s lawyer, Ray Dieno, won’t have the chance to cross-examine her himself.
According to those testimony tapes, Christina was an unwitting accomplice to a murder that Larue carried out himself.
Asp told both the undercover RCMP and the jury at her trial that after the duo arrived at Seybold’s cabin, a fight broke out between Larue and Seybold.
But on the stand, she insisted that she didn’t hit Seybold with the bat herself, and that only Larue did the killing. She also said they never donned masks and that she never touched the bat. She said she lied about Larue tying a rope around Seybold’s neck, and that after they left Seybold’s only Larue’s clothes were burned.
According to Asp’s witness stand testimony, she and Larue had been drinking with her mom, Jessie Asp, the night before Seybold died. Around 3 a.m. Larue said he had to “take care of business” and got up to leave. Asp insisted she go along, though she didn’t know where they were going.
Both Larue and Asp were drunk when they left Jessie Asp’s house. Larue told Asp that he needed her to help him find Seybold’s property.
“At that point I think we’re going there because Norman wants to talk to him about my mom,” Asp said.
Her voice is subdued throughout the tapes, and she is asked repeatedly to speak up so the court can hear her.
When they arrived, it was Larue who got violent, she said.
“Norman threw the first punch at Gordon,” she said.
The two men started brawling, and Asp followed them into the house, watching but doing nothing. At some point, Larue got his hands on Seybold’s bat.
“Everything changed. He just hit him repeatedly. I just kept watching. I didn’t see the blood until after,” Asp said.
During Monday’s cross-examination of the primary officer who spent the most time with Asp, defence lawyer Ray Dieno questioned how anyone could trust the word of a known criminal in the company of people she believed were also dangerous criminals. She was lying on the undercover tapes to protect herself, Dieno argued.
“People lie for many different motives,” Dieno said. “People lie for money, people lie for jobs. You lied to offer (Asp) a job. Christina Asp is known to lie, yet everything after you meet her, she’s supposedly telling the truth?”
He also said the RCMP had set out to make Asp totally dependent on them, and that this created an incentive for her to lie to them.
The primary officer insisted that, while Asp had been reliant on Project Monsoon for her rent and food, they hadn’t tried to manipulate her into it.
But according to Asp’s witness stand testimony, she did lie because she wanted to be part of the group, and because the primary officer’s fake story about shooting a man was so compelling.
“I wanted my story to sound like her story,” Asp said. “I didn’t want to lose the job. I didn’t want to lose her friendship … they were a criminal organization. I just wanted to fit in.”
Dieno also questioned the quality of the primary officer’s memory and notes. He pointed out that in some cases more than a month elapsed between the dates of Project Monsoon scenarios and when the primary officer finally sat down to write her notes.
In one case, the primary didn’t actually write her notes about the March 4 re-enactment in Whitehorse until April 7, after returning from a vacation in South America.
Dieno charged that the primary officer had made up some of the contents of her notebook.
“You realized you had to come up with a note and put it in there,” Dieno said.
The primary officer insisted that her official notebooks were written based on rough notes that she made during the investigations, and that everything was accurately reported.
The trial continues today with the jury hearing tapes of Asp being cross-examined at her own trial. More undercover officers from Project Monsoon will take the witness stand later in the week.
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