PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - An accused serial killer in northern British Columbia had a "system" to target vulnerable women, sexually assault them and then kill them using various tools and implements, jurors at his trial heard Wednesday.
In his closing augments in a Prince George, B.C., courtroom, Crown prosecutor Joseph Temple emphasized the similarities in the deaths of the three women and one teenage girl Cody Legebokoff is accused of murdering.
Legebokoff, 24, faces four counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Jill Stuchenko and Cynthia Maas, both 35, Natasha Montgomery, 23, and 15-year-old Loren Leslie.
Temple told the jury the murders were committed in or within driving distance of Prince George, and — for the three bodies that were found — there were similarities in the manner in which they were murdered and disposed of.
The killings occurred within a 14-month span, beginning with Stuchenko, whose body was found on Oct. 20, 2009, partially buried in a gravel pit.
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Stuchenko, Maas and Montgomery were described as sex trade workers addicted to crack cocaine, while Leslie suffered from mental health issues, used marijuana and met Legebokoff through a social media site, Temple said.
"All four were apparently willing to meet with and associate with unknown males and accompany those males to the male's residence or motor vehicle to consume drugs or alcohol," Temple said.
He suggested the reason Stuchenko was found in a shallow grave was because her killer discovered that digging a grave deep enough was too difficult and "just gave up."
Temple then proposed that when Legebokoff killed Montgomery, whose body has never been found, he decided to dismember the woman because he thought it would make it easier to dispose of her remains.
The trial heard that Montgomery's blood had been found throughout Legebokoff's apartment, as well as on an axe found in the home, which Temple said showed the attempt turned into a "horrible, bloody mess."
Legebokoff then decided to take his next victim to an outdoor setting before killing her, he said. Maas' body was found Oct. 9, 2010, in a local park.
Leslie's body was found Nov. 27, 2010, in a forested area off a logging road north of Vanderhoof.
On Tuesday, Legebokoff's lawyer asked the jury to convict his client of second-degree murder.
Legebokoff admitted during his testimony that he was present when each victim died, but someone else killed them. He told the trial he didn't want to say who killed them because he didn't want to be labelled a rat.
Legebokoff claimed Leslie killed herself.
His lawyer, James Heller, told the jury there is reasonable doubt that 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.
The Crown responded by saying Legebokoff would still be guilty of the more serious charge because he knew the intention and supplied the murder weapon in some cases.
"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.
The jury was dismissed until Monday morning when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett will give his charge.