BRITISH COLUMBIA
09/02/2014 08:38 EDT | Updated 09/03/2014 08:59 EDT

Cody Legebokoff Guilty Even If He Didn't Kill Victims: Crown

Corey Hardeman/CP

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - A B.C. man accused of killing three women and a 15-year-old girl is guilty of first-degree murder as charged, even if it is true he did not kill the alleged victims, the Crown said Tuesday.

Cody Legebokoff, 24, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jill Stuchenko and Cynthia Maas, both 35, Natasha Montgomery, 23, and 15-year-old Loren Leslie.

Legebokoff said in B.C. Supreme Court last week he was present when the women died but said he didn't murder them because the killings were carried out by three people who he identified only as X, Y and Z.

He said the girl killed herself.

During his closing statement, prosecutor Joseph Temple said Legebokoff would still be guilty because he knew the intention and supplied the murder weapons.

Legebokoff testified the women were killed after he handed weapons to X, Y and Z. But he refused to name his alleged accomplices, saying he didn't want to go to prison being labelled a "rat."

"If you choose to assist that person to complete his plan, you have made yourself a party to a planned and deliberate murder," Temple said.

Temple also cast doubt on Legebokoff's story, saying the accused showed he was unable to recollect details such as the conversations he had with his alleged victims.

He also described Legebokoff's demeanour during cross examination as evasive and vague.

When pressed about apparent inconsistencies between his story and the evidence collected from the scene of Leslie's death, Legebokoff responded with "rhetorical questions" rather than giving "factual answers," Temple said.

"He's not being forthright, he's not giving the answers, he's not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Temple told the jury.

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Photo gallery Cody Legebokoff's Victims See Gallery

Earlier in the day, the lawyer for Legebokoff asked the jury to convict his client of second-degree murder, not first-degree murder as charged.

James Heller told the jury there is reasonable doubt the murders were planned and deliberate.

Heller said he didn't expect jurors to believe every word of Legebokoff's testimony but he hoped they would consider the plausibility of some of his statements.

Legebokoff testified the alleged killers, X, Y and Z, were a drug dealer and two associates.

Heller went through evidence indicating the women were drug users and that Stuchenko and Montgomery had drug debts.

One witness testified he paid off a $500 debt for Stuchenko and another said Montgomery's head was shaved because she owed money.

Whether Maas was in debt was more questionable according to the evidence Heller reviewed.

Legebokoff told police that Loren Leslie, a partially blind 15-year-old girl, went crazy and began hitting herself with a pipe wrench and then appeared to have stabbed herself with a knife before she was found on the night of Nov. 27, 2010, near a gravel pit north of Vanderhoof, B.C.

He said that in a fit of panic he hit Leslie on the head before dragging her body into the bush and then fled the scene in his pickup truck. Shortly after he drove onto Highway 27, an RCMP officer pulled him over for speeding and noticed blood on him and in his truck.

Heller noted that Leslie had been released from 18 days in psychiatric care less than a week before her death and an RCMP officer found evidence that she had been overdosing on medication prescribed to her on the day of her release.

The psychiatrist who was working with Leslie "seemed to minimize a little bit what appeared to be some of the problematic aspects of her mental defect," Heller said, telling jurors they did not have to "accept every last aspect of (an expert witness's testimony) as gospel."

Heller reviewed evidence showing Legebokoff was a drug user who consumed cocaine and crack cocaine.

He also noted that despite an exhaustive search of Legebokoff's truck, no evidence of Montgomery or Stuchenko was found in the vehicle. Heller said a tire track investigators came across at the gravel pit where Stuchenko's body was discovered on Oct. 20, 2009 was found not to be from his client's truck.

He said no forensic evidence indicating Maas had been in Legebokoff's apartment was uncovered nor was evidence of who may have handled a pickaroon, allegedly the weapon used to kill her, found by investigators.

Maas's body was found in a park on Oct. 9, 2010. Legebokoff testified he helped dispose of it but that someone else used a pickaroon, a log-handling tool, which he said he'd stored in his truck. (CKPG, The Canadian Press)