The trial for a man accused of shooting and killing his former boss at a Christmas party began Thursday, when a Vancouver court heard that the alleged gunman had researched how to use a shotgun.

Sixty-one-year-old Eric Kirkpatrick is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Benjamin David Banky.

The 40-year-old CEO was shot to death in front of dozens of colleagues at a staff party for his company TallGrass Distribution Ltd., a natural food health supplier, on December, 12, 2008.

Kirkpatrick had been fired from the company the day before the incident.

After Kirkpatrick was fired, the Crown says that his home computer records show that he researched labour laws and how to use a Remington shotgun before sending a final email to family and friends.

It read: "Good-bye, with love, Eric."

Prosecutors say that Kirkpatrick made several admissions of guilt -- in one case, to his arresting officer. Earlier this month, he pleaded not guilty in the shooting.

The court heard Thursday that Banky chose to hire Kirkpatrick even though he'd previously been fired from Mountain Equipment Co-op, and others at TallGrass had previously turned him down.

Banky's business partner Matt Breech explained the hiring decision for the jury.

"Ben being Ben, always generous, wanted to give him an opportunity to show he could do a good job," Breech said.

According to Crown prosecutors, it was a gesture for which Banky paid dearly.

Few members of Banky's family attended proceedings on Thursday.

"It's too upsetting -- the deed's done -- so reliving that moment over and over again is not helpful for them," former colleague and family friend Matt Heemskerk told CTV News.

The jury trial, which will hear from dozens of witnesses, is expected to last five weeks.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Sarah Galashan