Surrey Six case update: Guilty finding upheld for 2 men convicted in B.C.'s deadliest gang shooting
VANCOUVER -- The guilty verdicts have been upheld for two men serving life sentences in connection with the province's deadliest gang shooting, a B.C. Court of Appeal judge ruled Thursday.
A judgment posted online provided few details about the decision, saying that the reasons are being withheld for now because there is an order sealing the court file to protect confidential information.
However, the judges wrote, "None of the grounds of appeal that would have resulted in a new trial are upheld, and the verdicts of guilt are affirmed."
An abbreviated version of the reasons will be posted "when available."
But it appears Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston's legal battle may not be over.
"The appeals of the appellants are allowed to the extent of quashing their convictions and remitting the matter to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing on the applications for a stay of proceedings for abuse of process."
Haevischer and Johnston were both sentenced to life in prison in 2014, after being found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder.
They were also found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
The charges stem from execution-style shootings of six people in a Surrey condo in 2007. The victims have been referred to as the "Surrey Six."
Among the arguments for a new trial was that, according to Johnston's lawyer, it was unfair that the men were left out of part of a hearing prior to their trial. This hearing resulted in the exclusion of a key witness who pleaded guilty in 2009 to second-degree murder in three of the deaths, as well as a conspiracy charge.
Lawyers for the appellants argued the Crown's case became "entirely circumstantial" when this witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was excluded.
Also named in the case was Red Scorpion gang leader Jamie Bacon, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit the murder of one of the victims, and counselling to commit murder in connection with another shooting.
Bacon was sentenced in September, and with credit for time served, will spend five years and seven months behind bars.
A joint statement of facts in the case alleged one of the victims was involved in the illegal drug trade and had been using the condo where the shooting took place to store drugs. It is alleged he failed to pay a "tax" to the Red Scorpion gang, and that was the motive for his murder.
Corey Lal, 21, was one of the six who died in the shooting. The other victims included his brother Michael, age 26, as well as 19-year-old Ryan Bartolomeo, 22-year-old Edward Narong, 22-year-old Christopher Mohan and 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg.
Mohan and Schellenberg were innocent bystanders. Schellenberg had been servicing fireplaces in the condo complex at the time, and Mohan lived in the suite across from the unit where the murders took place.
Speaking to CTV News after the decision was made public, Mohan's mother said she was happy with most of the verdict, but the hearing on abuse of process gave her pause.
Eileen Mohan said the hearing can open up other avenues for the accused.
"Since Jamie Bacon's lenient sentence that he received, I somehow lost faith in the system," she said.
She said she believes Johnston and Haevischer think they deserve the same type of sentence, and it makes her "fearful as to where we're going from here."
"Sometimes I think … the courts believe so much in the criminals that in the midst of all the trials, it's us who are left behind, and not thought of," Eileen Mohan said.
"There's no remorse or anything for us, as family members, who are left behind to pick up the pieces and pick up our lives and try to move on."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber and Sheila Scott
An earlier version of this article stated there would be no new trial for the men involved, when in fact the judge upheld their verdict, but said the appeals are allowed to the extent of remitting the matter to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing.