Trial underway for Vernon gang murders
A trial into the murders of three men in Vernon, B.C. five years ago is underway in Vancouver, where jurors are expected to hear testimony from 150 witnesses and view graphic, disturbing evidence.
The five accused are suspected members of "The Greeks," a now-defunct drug gang that operated out of the small southeastern community. Members were identifiable by their leather vests and tattoos of Greek letters.
The alleged gangsters are being represented by a combined 15 lawyers, five more than the Crown prosecution team.
The victims, all with alleged gang ties, were killed between 2004 and 2005, when Vernon was gripped by ruthless gang violence.
David Barry Marniuk was an alleged drug runner for The Greeks who absconded with gang profits and drugs. In the summer of 2004 he was tied to a chair, beaten to death and burned. His remains were never found.
In November that year, Thomas Edward Bryce, who tried competing with the Greeks, was beaten with a baseball bat and run over by a car. He died in hospital.
Ron Thom was shot in the face the following May because the Greeks believed he had turned police informant.
The Crown claims Peter Manolakas headed The Greeks at the time of the murders while living with his parents in Vernon. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Leslie Podolski pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder; Dale Gordon Sipes pleaded not guilty to two counts.
Sheldon Richard O'Donnell pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. Douglas Corey Brownell pleaded not guilty to one count each of first and second-degree murder.
The trial is expected to last until May 2012.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington