Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta RCMP Showed 'Tunnel Vision' in Arrest of Youth in Double Homicide: Lawyer

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta RCMP Showed 'Tunnel Vision' in Arrest of Youth in Double Homicide: Lawyer

Article excerpt

RCMP had tunnel vision in arrest of youth: lawyer

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EDMONTON - A lawyer for a teenager on trial for two murders says Mounties wasted time and money targeting a vulnerable youth in a poorly planned sting when they should have been looking for the real killer.

Mona Duckett argued in court Tuesday that the confession the youth made to undercover officers -- who he believed were part of a criminal gang -- should not be used as evidence.

The Crown responded by saying police didn't coerce or intimidate the boy into a confession.

Barry Boenke, 68, and his friend Susan Trudel, 50, were found bludgeoned and shot to death on a rural property east of Edmonton in June 2009.

Duckett said RCMP made a quick arrest and, when the case fell apart against the teen and a co-accused two years later, officers forged ahead with an undercover charade that took advantage of the accused's vulnerabilities.

Duckett said it's a shame the grieving families of the victims still have no answers.

"This operation is a product of tunnel vision by the investigators," Duckett told the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury.

"It was a predictable disaster."

The day before Boenke and Trudel were killed, the accused and another boy -- both 14 at the time -- had run away from the Strathcona County Ranch, a youth treatment facility run by Bosco Homes. The boys had been sent to the group home for allegedly vandalizing a school.

The two were arrested after they were found driving Boenke's stolen truck. The accused confessed to police, but during pretrial hearings a judge ruled the statement inadmissible. Without that key piece of evidence, the Crown stayed murder charges.

There was no forensic evidence linking the boys to the killings. Their DNA was not found at the scene and there was no blood or gunshot residue on their clothes. The gun that killed Boenke and Trudel has not been recovered.

RCMP later targeted both boys separately in an undercover "Mr. Big" sting. The accused was in Edmonton and the other teen in Calgary. Last May, the Crown reactivated the case against one teen and charged him with two counts of second-degree murder.

The suspect, who turns 18 in a couple of weeks, is being tried as a youth and cannot be identified.

He admitted to undercover officers that he killed Boenke and Trudel to be part of what he thought was a powerful crime syndicate. But he testified during the trial that he lied to gain respect.

The other boy also changed his story on the witness stand. He told undercover Mounties he saw the accused teen kill Boenke and Trudel, then testified he and the other youth were on the property but never actually saw the victims. …

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