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Cellphones boiled, clothes burned, Surrey Six murder trial told

James Keller The Canadian Press VANCOUVER — When Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston returned from an hour-long outing on an October afternoon six years ago, prompting a flurry of activity that included boiling cellphones and burning a bag of clothi
photo generic court justice

James Keller

The Canadian Press

 

VANCOUVER — When Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston returned from an hour-long outing on an October afternoon six years ago, prompting a flurry of activity that included boiling cellphones and burning a bag of clothing, no one explained to Haevischer’s girlfriend the reason for the commotion, according to her testimony.

Members of the Red Scorpions gang — a group the trial has heard included Haevischer and Johnston — were strictly forbidden from speaking about matters of business, even in private.

Instead, they used dry-erase white boards in an effort to avoid being recorded — which, according to a woman known only as K.M., is exactly what Haevischer did on Oct. 19, 2007, while communicating with his brother.

“He wrote, ‘People died,’ ” K.M. said during her second day of testimony at the murder trial of the two men.

On that same afternoon, six people — including two innocent bystanders — were fatally shot in a highrise in Surrey in what the Crown has alleged was an execution of a rival drug trafficker.

Earlier in the day, Johnston and another man, who can’t be named, arrived at the apartment in Surrey where K.M. and Haevischer lived, she testified.

With K.M.’s help, they used window cleaner to wipe down two automatic handguns and a handful of bullets, she said, before the three men left, dressed in dark clothing and wearing gloves.

Haevischer and Johnston returned about an hour later, said K.M., and by then Haevischer’s brother Justin had arrived at the apartment, as well.

Everyone jumped into action, she said. Johnston emptied out a garbage bag that contained cellphones and several thousand dollars in cash, which she was assigned to count, K.M. testified. She later smelled something burning and walked into the kitchen, where she saw Haevischer standing over a pot containing the cellphones in boiling water, she said.

It was in the kitchen, K.M. testified, that she saw Haevischer write “people died” on the dry-erase board.

“Was this the first you learned about people dying?” asked Crown lawyer Geoff Baragar.

“Yes,” K.M. replied.

The cellphones and some clothing were tossed into a laundry bag. K.M. and Justin Haevischer then drove from the apartment, taking the laundry bag with them.

Eventually, K.M. and Justin Haevischer bought a can full of gasoline and drove to an empty lot that was surrounded by trees, she said. She stayed in the car while Justin Haevischer burned the laundry bag, she said, before the pair drove back to K.M.’s apartment, where Cody remained by himself.

“He was still hectic,” K.M. said. “He told me to just go pack some bags. We were going to go.”

Haevischer’s brief note on the dry-erase board was the first time K.M. heard people had died, according to her testimony, but it wasn’t the last.

She and the Haevischer brothers went to an associate’s condo in Richmond. They turned on the suppertime TV news and saw a story about a natural gas leak at a highrise in Surrey — a reference to the initial, inaccurate reports of what had happened at the Balmoral Towers complex.

“It wasn’t until 11 o’clock one that they really got into [the fact that] six people had been shot,” said K.M.

“We all stopped and watched it. Cody told us all to shut up.”

The following day, several members of the Red Scorpions gang met at the Richmond condo, including gang leader Quang Vinh Thang (Michael) Le, she testified. Le pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit murder.

Again, they didn’t speak, instead using a dry-erase board, said K.M., who told the court she saw one of Haevischer’s notes.

“All I saw is that he had [written] that six people died,” said K.M.

K.M. said she and Haevischer stayed at the Richmond condo for a few days before moving to a hotel. Their apartment in Surrey was raided by the police, she said, and they later found a new place to live. K.M.’s BMW was also seized, she said.

She and Haevischer broke up in early 2009, she told the court.

Police investigators approached her about co-operating, she said, but at first she told them to “Eat it.”

The day after Haevischer was arrested in April 2009, said K.M., she changed her mind, agreeing to co-operate. She received financial compensation to relocate, the court heard.

The Crown alleges Haevischer, Johnston and a third man went to the Balmoral Towers condominium complex to murder a rival drug trafficker named Corey Lal, but ended up killing five more people to eliminate potential witnesses.

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