Victim’s friend takes the stand

Laurent Brault knew about the marijuana grow-op on Gordon Seybold's property, but he insists that he wasn't involved in the business. Brault described Seybold as having been his best friend.

Laurent Brault knew about the marijuana grow-op on Gordon Seybold’s property, but he insists that he wasn’t involved in the business.

Brault described Seybold as having been his best friend.

The police discovered the grow-op in a garage on Seybold’s property after his cabin burned down in March 2008.

Seybold’s badly charred remains were also found in the wreckage of the cabin the day of the fire.

The Crown alleges that Norman Larue and his then-fiancee, Christina Asp, burned the cabin down after badly beating Seybold in his Ibex Valley home.

Larue is facing a first-degree murder charge related to Seybold’s death.

Asp was convicted of second-degree murder for her part in Seybold’s death in a trial last year.

On the first day of Larue’s trial, the jury heard a tape of him telling an undercover police officer about how he and Asp beat Seybold with a bat before setting fire to his cabin.

Brault testified that Seybold kept an aluminum bat in his cabin for protection.

A blood-smeared bat and two broken rifles were recovered from a garbage bin at a rest stop about 11 kilometres from the cabin on the day of the fire. Forensic tests matched the blood on the bat to Seybold.

On the tape, Larue said that Seybold had disrespected his mother-in-law, but it was the fact that she told him that there was a grow-op on the property that really motivated him.

“All I seen was money,” said Larue on the tape. “I just saw him as a person blocking me from money,” he added.

For several years, Brault was in a common-law relationship with Jesse Asp, the mother of Larue’s fiance at the time.

Brault and Jesse broke up about two years before Seybold’s death and Brault moved on to Seybold’s property, building a small cabin out of an old, broken down tent frame.

But in the weeks before Seybold’s death, Brault and Jesse had started to see each other again.

Brault knew about the grow-op on Seybold’s property. He had even helped build the garage where it was housed.

When police discovered it after the fire, they seized more than 400 plants from a loft area on the second floor of the garage. However, Brault said he “had no idea” how many plants were up there.

“I think it was a small business. A one-man show,” he said.

Brault did, however, know about the security system that Seybold had installed on the property.

It was designed to ring in the cabin if anyone came up the driveway or tried to get into the garage, said Brault. But on the cabin where Seybold lived, there wasn’t even a lock on the door, he added.

Brault went on to tell the court about the “honour system” that Seybold used to sell the drugs.

There was a Tupperware container full of marijuana along with a scale set up in a padlocked sauna on the property, said Brault.

About two-dozen people, including Brault, had keys to the sauna. They would take marijuana and leave the cash, he said.

Brault admitted that he occasionally helped harvest the marijuana for Seybold and would sometimes pick up marijuana for friends from the sauna, but that was the extent of his involvement with the business.

“I didn’t want to get involved with that,” he said.

When Seybold went away for the winter, Brault would move into his cabin to house sit, but someone else was responsible for tending to the marijuana garden in the garage and collecting the cash from the sauna, he said.

At first Brault refused to identify the person who took care of the grow-op when questioned by Larue’s lawyer, Ray Dieno.

When pressed, though, he said that he didn’t know his name.

Dieno accused Brault of being the “master gardener,” a charge that Brault denied.

Dieno went on to suggest that Brault was covering up for someone because he was afraid, but Brault insisted that suggestion was baseless.

“No one’s threatened me with anything,” he said.

After adjourning for the afternoon, Dieno started out on Thursday morning by suggesting that Brault had changed the story he told police several times.

After another hour of cross examination, Brault seemed to get fed up with Dieno’s insinuations.

“You’ve got nothing but suggestions,” he said. “Give me some facts and I’ll answer.”

The trial continues next week.

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