After Dean (Johns) Boucher took the blame for Robert Olson’s 2004 murder on Thursday, the court must now decide how it will treat Mark Lange.
On Friday, Justice Leigh Gower decided to postpone sentencing the pair in light of Boucher’s new testimony.
Lange, and Boucher were co-defendants on trial for Olson’s murder, which took place December 23, 2004.
Both men were convicted by jury of second-degree murder in June 2006.
But Thursday, during a sentencing hearing in Yukon Supreme Court, Boucher took the stand again and told Gower that he acted alone and in a drunken rage when he beat the 64-year-old Olson to death.
“Mark had nothing to do whatsoever with the fight,” said Boucher.
The surprising new testimony changes everything, Lange’s lawyer Andre Roothman argued Friday.
“(Boucher) gave a completely new version of Lange’s involvement,” said Roothman, noting that previously Boucher tried to blame Lange for murder and robbery that night at Olson’s Caribou Hotel in Carcross.
“We will file an appeal of the guilty verdict.”
Lange’s involvement with the murder was completely under duress, because he feared for his life if he did not do as Boucher instructed during the crimes, he said.
Roothman mused about manslaughter, saying that Lange might get two or four years in prison for his involvement with Olson’s murder, rather than the 10-year minimum sentence that comes with a second-degree murder conviction.
Crown prosecutors rejected Lange’s earlier plea for manslaughter, he said.
“The Crown will not make any concessions. They would rather go down in flames.”
Eight members of the jury recommended the minimum sentence for Lange, which means they didn’t think he was as culpable for Olson’s death as Boucher, said Roothman.
He commended Boucher for his 11th-hour honesty and wished him healing.
“I respect Mr. Boucher for coming clean, even at this late stage,” said Roothman.
As for Lange’s appeal, “I am extremely optimistic,” he said.
But Crown lawyers argued Friday that Boucher’s late account of Lange’s involvement does not merit a lesser charge or even a lighter sentence than 15 years in prison.
“(Boucher’s testimony) doesn’t mean we should forget about the evidence against Mr. Lange,” Crown attorney Edith Campbell reminded Gower.
Campbell summarized the evidence against Lange.
In his initial statement to the RCMP Lange admitted that he stole things from the Caribou Hotel while Olson lay bleeding on the floor, she said.
Lange admitted he punched and kicked Olson and held him down while Boucher looted the hotel bar, she said.
Lang also admitted Olson scratched his face, which is how Lange’s DNA wound up under Olson’s fingernails, she said.
“(Lange) took part in the beating.
“When he decided to join in what was going on and decided to help (Boucher), that was sufficient to make him a co-principal in what was going on.”
Campbell and Gower debated whether Lange should be classified as a co-principal of Olson’s murder or an aider and abetter, as both defendants sat silently, staring forward.
Lange, by his own admission, had helped Boucher load Olson into the dying man’s own pickup truck, and drove it part of the way to Whitehorse, said Campbell.
Once they discovered Olson was dead, Lange and Boucher both dumped the body in a ditch in the Wolf Creek subdivision and carried on, she said.
After they crashed the truck in a snow bank, they went to the Petro-Canada station at McCrae, where Lange exhibited no signs of fear or intoxication and concealed what happened, said Campbell.
“You can’t look at only what Mr. Lange admits to,” she told Gower.
“To be an aider and abetter, his involvement would have to be much less than what happened that night.”
Furthermore, Boucher’s testimony might be valid, but he doesn’t remember the beating, she said.
“We’re dealing with someone who doesn’t have the memory, but is willing to take the responsibility.”
Gower decided he would not be able to render a sentence for both defendants until he reviewed Boucher’s testimony.
He apologized to Boucher, who had hoped for a speedy sentencing.
“It’s not going to happen,” said Gower.
He scheduled another sentencing hearing for August 31.