B.C. judge urged to reject denials of three teenagers accused in death of teen in Whistler
Luka Gordic, 19, of Burnaby, B.C., shown in an undated, family handout photo, died after being stabbed early Sunday morning, May 17, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
A prosecutor urged a judge Thursday to reject the denials of three teenagers accused in the fatal swarming attack of another teen in Whistler.
In final submissions, Crown counsel Hank Reiner told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes that three youths' testimony that they were not to blame for the May 2015 stabbing of Luka Gordic, 19, of Burnaby was not credible. The youths cannot be identified due to a publication ban.
Court heard that all three teens had blood from the victim on their boots or clothing, with one of the teens being arrested with a knife with the victim's DNA on it in his possession.
Each gave explanations — including that the blood was transferred by contact with another teen or that the evidence was contaminated by police handling — for the presence of Gordic's blood on them.
But Reiner told the judge their explanations were "unworthy of belief" and asserted that the blood found on all three accused links them "incontrovertibly" to the attack.
"They looked for Luka Gordic together, they attacked together, they fled together, they were arrested together," said Reiner.
Two of the teens have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. The third teen, the youth found with the knife in his possession, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
The prosecutor said there was "overwhelming" evidence that the attack had been planned by Arvin Golic, a fourth accused who is being tried separately, and that Golic had recruited the others to help him find and assault the victim.
He said Golic was motivated by a "misplaced" anger towards Gordic that was triggered by Gordic letting it be known that it was uncool of Golic to browbeat and bully his ex-girlfriend.
"The ineluctable conclusion is that Arvin Golic was the architect of the assault and that Arvin Golic put all the attackers up to it; he recruited that group to assault Luka Gordic."
Prior to the attack, Golic and the three accused on trial were all staying in the same residence for a weekend of partying in Whistler and all three "shared bonds of friendship," said Reiner.
The three accused claimed they didn't know anything about Golic's planned attack but the prosecutor said that the evidence proved those claims were "demonstrably untrue," he said.
"In the Crown's submission it is impossible to believe that anyone present with Arvin Golic would not have been aware of his activities and his mood."
The teen arrested with the knife testified he was so intoxicated that he remembered nothing of the fatal attack.
But Reiner said the teen was a "very good" friend of Golic, was with Golic before and during a search by Golic for Gordic prior to the attack and is clearly identified by eyewitnesses and a video outside a Whistler restaurant as being one of the primary attackers.
"The evidence seems clear and compelling that (the teen) acted as he did because he completely identified with Arvin Golic's misplaced grievance and the other two are part of a larger contingent recruited by Arvin Golic to attack Luka Gordic."
Reiner told the judge it was "very much" a circumstantial case with much of the evidence being applicable to all three accused.
He said the case was both factually multi-faceted and legally complex and urged the judge to consider each piece of evidence in the context of all of the other pieces of evidence. Reiner's submissions are expected to continue Friday.
A ban on the identity of Golic during the trial of the three other teens was lifted after Golic re-elected to be tried by judge alone instead of by a jury. The trial of Golic, who was 18 at the time of the slaying and is charged with second-degree murder, is expected to get underway in March.