SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Families of the Surrey Six victims described in B.C. Supreme Court Friday their broken hearts and shattered lives in the aftermath of the 2007 gangland slaying that saw their loved ones executed.
Red Scorpion killers Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnton stared straight ahead for most of the morning as the heart-wrenching victim impact statements were read out at their sentencing hearing at the Vancouver Courts.
Both were convicted two months ago of six counts of first-degree murder and one of conspiracy in connection with the Oct. 19, 2007 murders in a penthouse apartment of Surrey’s Balmoral Tower.
While they face mandatory life sentences without parole eligibility for 25 years on the murder counts, the judge has discretion in sentencing them for conspiracy to kill Corey Lal.
Crown Mark Levitz asked for an additional life sentence for the conspiracy conviction, noting the intense suffering of the families of victims Corey and Michael Lal, Eddie Narong, Ryan Bartolomeo and bystanders Chris Mohan and Ed Schellenberg.
And he said the conspiracy to kill Lal – a rival drug dealer – ended up with the execution of five others who were potential witnesses.
But Haevischer’s lawyer Simon Buck argued that his client was only part of the conspiracy for about 20 minutes before the murders and should get a 10-year sentence on the conspiracy count.
And he said Haevischer should get double-time credit for his pre-trial custody on the conspiracy conviction, meaning a net sentence of time-served.
Haevischer declined to address the court or apologize to his victims’ families.
Buck said his client instructed him not to reveal his personal history at the sentencing hearing since he is expected to be in jail for life.
Eileen Mohan, who lived across the hall from the death suite with son Christopher, sobbed as she described her family being torn apart because of his murder.
“My life was destroyed with the bullet that pierced my son,” she said. “The bullet that killed Christopher also took a part of his father, his sister and his cousins.”
She said she still feels enormous guilt as she was supposed to stay home that day and wait for the fireplace service man to arrive.
When she got called in to work, Chris offered to wait instead.
At one point Mohan addressed Haevischer and Johnston directly:
“You pulled my terrified innocent boy from the hallway as he was leaving for his basketball game,” she said.
They both glanced downwards.
Jourdane Lal, who lost two brothers that day, said she adored her brothers and has battled with depression and insomnia since their brutal slaying.
“I have been told that time heals everything. But I am still waiting,” she said.
She said her brothers “had beautiful hearts and loving intentions.”
“The one thing that will always stand out in my mind is the amount of love they had for their family,” she said, adding that her three children will never know their loving uncles except in photographs and stories told.
She said learning that both her brothers had been murdered devastated her family.
“I will never forget the sheer look of terror on my mother’s face on Oct. 20, 2007.”
Levitz read the statements from other family members – the Lals’ dad Michael, Schellenberg’s daughter Rachel and wife Lois, Bartolomeo’s mom Rose and Narong’s sister Diana.
“If only these men knew what kind of man he was, they would have walked right out of there,” Rachel Schellenberg said. “He was a beautiful man . . . What joy he brought.”
“My dad shouldn’t have been the one whose life was taken,” Rachel said. “No one’s should have been.”
Lois Schellenberg’s statement, written earlier when another accused pleaded guilty, said: “The plans we had together are just a memory.”
“Ed had gone to work. He was supposed to be there. How could this have happened?”
The sentencing hearing is expected to conclude this afternoon with arguments from Johnston’s lawyer Michael Tammen about the term for the conspiracy conviction.
Wedge is expected to rule some time today.