Norman Larue may be a liar, but he’s not a murderer, argued his lawyer, Ray Dieno, in his opening statement to the jury.
Larue, 34, is facing a first-degree murder charge for the killing of Gordon Seybold, whose charred body was found in the burned-out wreckage of his Ibex Valley home in 2008.
The trial, which is expected to last three months, started Friday.
While it was impossible to determine the exact cause of death, given the state of Seybold’s remains, the Crown argued that Larue, and his fiancee Christina Asp, badly beat Seybold with a baseball bat and then burned his cabin to the ground.
Asp was found guilty of second-degree murder for her part in the killing in a trial last year.
Both Asp and Larue were charged after confessing to Seybold’s murder to undercover police officers posing as a major crime family.
A tape of Larue describing the killing was played for the jury on the first day of the trial.
In it, Larue tells the undercover officer that Seybold disrespected his mother-in-law (Asp’s mother) but when she told him that Seybold had a marijuana grow-op on his property, “all I seen was money.”
“I just saw him as a person blocking me from money,” said Larue on the tape.
He described how both he and Asp beat Seybold with a bat, after which he slit Seybold’s throat “ear to ear.”
“I couldn’t believe what I did, but I didn’t feel anything for the guy’s life … I just stood over him and kind of chuckled.”
After they killed Seybold, they placed his body up on a couch, doused him with alcohol from a jug they found in the cabin and set the fire, said Larue.
On the tape, Larue told the undercover police officer he “had his mind made up” that he was probably going to kill Seybold.
But all of that was a lie, said Dieno.
Larue was simply trying to impress what he thought were “violent gangsters” in the hopes of securing a job with them as an enforcer and bodyguard, he said. “Why expect criminals to tell the truth to other criminals?”
Dieno described the undercover officers as trained deceivers who spend huge budgets pretending to be gangsters, “wining and dining” impoverished people and “bedazzling” them with promises of a life that they could never dream of having.
On the tape, Larue describes how lucky he feels at having fallen in with what he thought was a major crime family.
“The only regret I ever have is not meeting people like you when I was younger,” he said. “I know my life would have went a whole different route.”
Larue’s lies won’t be the only ones the jury will hear, said Dieno.
One of the 50 witnesses that the Crown plans to call is Christina Asp, whose story of the murder has changed several times, he said.
Seybold was actually the second person that Asp has been convicted of killing.
In 2005, Asp was found guilty of manslaughter for the stabbing death of her boyfriend, Keith Blanchard.
And Asp is not the only unreliable witness the Crown plans to call, said Dieno.
“We also have a police officer that’s going to be on the stand who was convicted of perjury,” he said.
Retired staff sergeant Ross Spenard, a former RCMP blood-splatter expert, was found to have lied under oath in testimony he gave in a B.C. murder trial in 2009.
While he is not the only forensic expert the jury will hear from, some of the testimony from the “so-called experts … takes forensics to a pseudo-science,” said Dieno.
The jury will also get a chance to hear from Larue himself when he takes the stand later on in the trial.
“Certainly Mr. Larue is not lily-white, but he is not a killer,” said Dieno.
The trial continues today.
Contact Josh Kerr at email@example.com