Via Free Press
As a B.C. Supreme Court jury foreman read out each verdict Thursday, finding Cody Alan Legebokoff, 24, guilty of four counts of first degree murder, the families of his victims began hugging each other and crying.
Many people in the gallery had tears in their eyes.
The jury began their deliberations at noon Wednesday and they delivered their decision about 5:50 p.m. Thursday. Courtroom 104 was nearly filled to capacity with people interested in hearing the long awaited verdicts.
Legebokoff, whose trial began June 2 is convicted of first degree murder in the deaths of Jill Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Maas, 35, Natasha Montgomery, 23 and Leslie Donn Loren, 15. The murders were committed in 2009 and 2010.
Soon after the verdicts were heard and court was dismissed, Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel with the Criminal Justice Branch, headed up a media conference outside the courthouse with some victims’ family members taking the opportunity to address friends, relatives, reporters and members of the public who had been following the case.
Judy Maas, Cindy Maas’ sister who has carried an eagle feather with her all throughout the trial as she sat in the gallery and listened, gave her thanks to the members of the jury. But, she said the verdict is “bittersweet.”
“My sister is gone and we will never get her back. It’s difficult to carry the heartbreak.”
At times during the long court process, she said, family members “weren’t sure where things would land.” She said every day they prayed for all involved, the RCMP, all the witnesses and the “courageous” people who faced derogatory remarks because of their lifestyles.
Referring to Legebokoff’s four female victims, she said:
“They were not just a sex trade worker … or a drug addict … or a person with mental health issues, they were people who lost their way.”The Women’s Warrior song sung by First Nations people on the courthouse steps Thursday was “incredibly powerful,” she said. Drummers and singing was the first thing people encountered as they came out of the courthouse and photographs on placards remembered many other murdered and missing women.
Judy Maas said she wished people really knew who her sister Cindy – and the other women – really were.
“They were loved. They are missed,” she said, adding, “we have suffered so much in the past four years …”
She also had high praise for B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett.
“The judge is the best judge I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Louanne Montgomery, Natasha’s mother, said she was happy with the verdict. Then she struggled to keep her composure and was overcome with tears as she gave an emotional plea for people to “keep an eye out for Natasha’s remains.”
No trace of her 23-year-old daughter’s body or her remains have ever been found.
Donna Leslie who has attended court for most of the trial which began June 2, said a sense of calm came over her as Cody Alan Legebokoff was pronounced guilty of first degree murder in the death of her daughter Loren Donn Leslie, 15.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett is expected to sentence Legebokoff on Friday morning.