BRITISH COLUMBIA

Cody Legebokoff Tries To Change Plea In Women's Deaths

09/08/2014 04:00 EDT | Updated 09/10/2014 09:59 EDT
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PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - An accused serial killer's attempt to plead guilty to four counts of second-degree murder in a northern British Columbia courtroom has been thwarted by the Crown prosecutor.

Cody Legebokoff, 24, entered the pleas Monday morning in Prince George, before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett started his final instructions to jury members on how they should consider the evidence.

Prosecutor Joseph Temple said the Crown did not consent to the pleas.

The Crown is seeking verdicts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Jill Stuchenko and Cynthia Maas, both 35, Natasha Montgomery, 23, and 15-year-old Loren Leslie.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations late Tuesday and can also find Legebokoff not guilty or guilty of manslaughter

Legebokoff's attempted plea came as no surprise, given his lawyer, Jim Heller, had urged the jury during closing statements last week to find his client guilty of second-degree murder, rather than the more serious charge of first-degree murder.

Legebokoff testified he was involved in the killings of Stuchenko, Maas and Montgomery, but three other people identified as X, Y and Z carried out the murders.

He testified he struck Leslie with a pipe wrench but the act wasn't planned and deliberate. Her body was found in a remote wooded area.

The Crown has argued Legebokoff planned the murders, sexually assaulted his victims, and should be convicted of the more-serious charges of first-degree murder.

Parrett told the jury they are "entitled to consider" Legebokoff's plea "as an admission" but must still be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the Crown has proven all the essential elements of the offence.

"Mr. Legebokoff's plea is a factor you can consider but is only one factor you can consider along with all of the other evidence," said Parrett.

Parrett advised the jury about how to weigh the evidence, noting that of the 94 witnesses who testified, 20 were experts. He said the jury is not obliged to consider expert-witness testimony as conclusive.

Parrett will continue to deliver his instructions Tuesday morning. (Prince George Citizen)

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Cody Legebokoff's Victims