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Friday, 30 March 2012

Bolsa gunman will face automatic sentence of life in prison

08:03 |

It took the better part of three days but a jury unanimously concluded Real Christian Honorio was one of the gunmen who fatally shot three people at Bolsa Vietnamese Restaurant on New Year's Day 2009. The jury spent some 27 hours deliberating before convicting the 28-year-old member of the 403 Soldiers street gang of first-degree murder in the daylight execution-style deaths of rival FK gang member Sanjeev Mann, 23, and FK associate Aaron Bendle, 21. He faces automatic life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. What appears to have bogged the jury down, however, was its decision regarding bystander Keni Su'a, 43, who was chased down and shot from behind as he fled the eatery just before 4 p.m., after the gunfire erupted. In the end, the jury convicted Honorio of second-degree murder in the death of S'ua. Both first- and second-degree murder require intent to kill, but second-degree murder lacks the planning and deliberation required for first. Defence lawyers Tonii Roulston and Greg Dunn said outside court they were disappointed but respectful of the eight-man, four-woman jury's decisions. "The jury took three days to come to its decision. They obviously thought long and hard about it," Dunn said. "We knew there were people on the jury fighting for Mr. Honorio and fighting for the defence and we'd like to thank those people." Roulston said they advised Honorio before the jury came back "to not make a scene, no matter what the verdict - good or bad for us - and he listened to his counsel." However, she said, when she and Dunn visited him in a consulting room afterward, he was clearly upset. "We thought we had a good case going forward, so did Mr. Honorio," Roulston said. "Like we said, it took three days, so it's something to think about." Honorio was the third gang member convicted by a jury regarding the bloody incident at the restaurant in Macleod Mall at Macleod Trail and 94th Ave. S.E., which shocked the entire city as it came during a bitter gang war that claimed at least 25 lives over five years. Nathan Zuccherato, 25, and Michael Roberto, 28, both members of the FKs bitter rival FOBs, were found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder last October and sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years. A fourth man, Nicholas Hovanesian, also faces the same three first-degree murder charges but has not yet gone to trail. He will be back in court next month. Neither the victims nor the accused had family members in court for support. Roulston said Honorio's parents, who testified in his defence, probably would have been there but couldn't make it on short notice. Prosecutors Rajbir Dhillon and Susan Karpa declined comment after the verdicts. A key to the Crown's case was a three-month undercover police operation that targeted Honorio and led to his confession to the crimes to Det. Rey Bangloy and Sgt. Darren Berglind. Bangloy worked directly with him for three months and Berglind played the boss of a fictitious powerful crime organization during a so-called Mr. Big scenario at a Vancouver hotel on June 2, 2009, in which Honorio was trying to get a full-time job with them. The details of the confession were corroborated fairly closely by two key Crown witnesses -- M.M. and C.E. -- whose identities are protected by publication bans. Roulston said she is vehemently opposed to such operations, as there is always a danger that someone wrongfully confessed to a crime just to ensure a place in such an organization.

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