By Mark Nielsen, Prince George Citizen, The Canadian Press
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Cody Allan Legebokoff said he was â€œinvolvedâ€ in the deaths of three women he is accused of murdering but did not carry out the actual killings.
Court heard Legebokoffâ€™s claims Tuesday as he testified in his defence at the Prince George courthouse.
Rather, he said that a drug dealer and two other accomplices carried out the acts but refused to give their names, other than to call them X, Y and Z, for fear of retribution.
Legebokoff said he stands to receive a significant amount of time in a federal penitentiary for what heâ€™s done and did not want to go there with the reputation as a â€œrat,â€ or someone who helps convict others, on three murder charges.
â€œItâ€™s just not in the cards,â€ Legebokoff said.
Legebokoff stands charged with the murders of Jill Stacey Stuchenko, Cynthia Frances Maas and Natasha Lynn Montgomery â€” three women deeply involved in the cityâ€™s drug scene, according to earlier testimony â€” and the murder of 15-year old Loren Donn Leslie.
Even when warned by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett that he would be held in contempt of court if he did not provide the names, Legebokoff refused to co-operate and said he trusts the jury understands his choice.
The exchange came near the end of a day in which Legebokoff presented his account under questioning from defence lawyer Jim Heller.
His testimony began with a look back at his upbringing in Fort St. James, a town of 1,700 people.
Legebokoff described a childhood in which he got along with his parents and siblings; had a regular social life; played hockey; went hunting and fishing during summers; and worked in a sawmill that was started by his grandfather and his great-uncle. He also said he has a weak left arm caused by nerve damage when he was born, although that did not prevent him from playing sports because he is right handed.
After graduating from high school, Legebokoff said he and a friend moved to Lethbridge, Alta., where he spent a year working odd jobs and frequenting the bar scene before moving back to Fort St. James because he was homesick.
After a few months, he joined some friends from his hometown in moving to a house in the 1500 block of Carney Street in Prince George. By late summer 2009 he was living in the basement suite of a home where parties large and small were held almost every weekend.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT FOLLOWS THAT MAY DISTURB SOME READERS
It was at one of the larger parties where Legebokoff said he met X, whom he described as a drug dealer that introduced him to cocaine.
Legebokoff, who said he had consumed marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms in the past, found he liked the high and soon became a regular customer.
On the Saturday of the 2009 Thanksgiving long weekend, with his housemates away in Fort St. James, Legebokoff said he invited X over to the home for a party. That night, X showed up with five others in tow, including Stuchenko and Y, the court heard.
As they sat on a couch, love seat and futon, they began passing around powdered cocaine on a CD case, the court heard. Legebokoff said he noticed Stuchenko seemed kind of alone, moved over to sit next to her and chatted her up.
â€œShe wasnâ€™t an ugly person, or an ugly woman, so I figured Iâ€™d try my luck and sit next to her and start talking to her,â€ Legebokoff said.
They got closer and closer and â€œjust started talking sexy towards one another,â€ Legebokoff said, and soon after that the two went into his bedroom where they had sex.
â€œ[It was] just a mutual decision and I donâ€™t know if sheâ€™d seen me as some future sugar daddy type deal,â€ Legebokoff said. â€œI did not know she was a prostitute at that time.â€
Asked about the lacerations found on her anus, Legebokoff said he did not remember having anal sex with her.
â€œI was not out of it by any means; I certainly was intoxicated,â€ Legebokoff said.
Afterwards, they went back out to the basement living room where the party was continuing.
While Stuchenko returned to a love seat, Legebokoff went over to a futon where the cocaine was being passed around.
He said X then pulled out a crack pipe and, for the first time, Legebokoff said he smoked crack. Everyone consumed crack for the next hour-and-a-half to two hours, the court heard.
Just after midnight, four of the visitors left, leaving X, Y, Stuchenko and Legebokoff in the house.
About a half hour later, Legebokoff said he and Y went into his bedroom to have a smoke and X came in soon after to say Stuchenko was going to be killed because she owed a lot of money.
â€œThere was a pipe that was right by my toolbox right beside my bed and I picked that up and I gave that to X and he took it and all he did was look at me and nod,â€ Legebokoff said. â€œAnd that was when I was given the instruction to go out and sit on the couch and Y was given the instruction to watch the door and so thatâ€™s what I did.â€
Legebokoff said Stuchenko was sitting in the middle of the couch and still â€œin the middle of her tripâ€ when they came back out. X hit her in the top, back of her head with the pipe and Stuchenko fell towards her side, Legebokoff said.
X struck her a few more times and then continued to hit her with his hands and then appeared to be choking her, Legebokoff said. X pulled Stuchenko off the couch and onto the carpeted floor and discussed with Y what to do next.
Legebokoff said he noticed blood on the carpet and dragged Stuchenko into the laundry room where X told him to take her clothes off and put them in a garbage bag. Legebokoff said he also put her purse in the bag after pulling out her cellphone and breaking it in half.
Legebokoff said he then put the garbage bag into a second one and X and Y carried Stuchenko out of the basement and put her body in the back of the pickup truck the two had arrived in. While they took off to dump Stuchenkoâ€™s body â€“ it was found on Oct. 20, 2009, partially buried in a gravel pit off Otway Road near Foothills Boulevard â€“ Legebokoff said he dropped the clothes and purse in a dumpster at Spruceland Mall.
Legebokoff said he then returned to the home where he attempted to clean up the blood but had trouble getting it out of the couch and off the carpet. The next day he drove to Fort St. James to have Thanksgiving dinner with his family.
â€œI knew what I did wasnâ€™t right but there wasnâ€™t much I could really do,â€ Legebokoff said when asked how he felt about what happened.
While he did not see Y for another year, Legebokoff said he continued to buy cocaine from X and party with him, all the while refraining from talking about Stuchenko. â€œWe carried on like nothing happened,â€ Legebokoff said.
Legebokoff also ran errands for X, delivering packages of what he assumed were drugs and money to various homes around the city.
By early summer 2010, Legebokoff had moved to an apartment in the 1400-block of Liard Drive, taking the couch on which Stuchenko was struck and its matching love seat with him, the court had heard in earlier testimony.
He said X came over â€œquite a few timesâ€ after he moved in and, one night showed up with two others, Y and a woman called Cindy, later identified as Maas. Asked if the sight of Y might be a sign of trouble, Legebokoff said he didnâ€™t think about it because it had been a year since Stuchenkoâ€™s death.
He said they smoked crack in the living room for the next half hour and 45 minutes. X and Maas then got up and went around the corner into the dining room where they were talking.
â€œAnd just after that I heard a noise â€“ a slap with a loud cracking noise followed by a thud,â€ Legebokoff said.
Legebokoff said he was sitting on the couch at the time and when he heard the noise, jumped to the edge of the seat. He said Y looked at him and gestured with his hand to calm down. When he did look around the wall between the dining room and living room, Legebokoff said he noticed a tool or thin bar, about a foot-and-a-half long and Maas lying on her stomach.
Legebokoff said X then left and he and Y dealt with Maasâ€™ body. They put her in the cab of Legebokoffâ€™s pickup truck with her sitting in the middle of the two and they drove to L.C. Gunn Park at Yâ€™s suggestion.
They drove along an unmarked road into the park and stopped. Legebokoff said Y pulled Maas out and she fell onto the ground. When Y said she was still alive, Legebokoff reached into the back of his cab and pulled out a pickaroon he had used to carry logs when chopping wood while out camping and handed it to him.
Legebokoff said he heard Y strike her â€œtwo, three, four timesâ€ and then Y passed the pickaroon back to Legebokoff. While he turned the truck around, Legebokoff said Y dragged Maasâ€™ body back into the bush.
Given the time it took, Legebokoff said he thought Y had taken her a far distance and was surprised to learn she was found only 10 to 20 feet from the bushline. Police found her body on Oct. 9, 2010 and an expert witness testified Maas was killed sometime a month before.
Legebokoff drove Y to his home and never saw him again. He returned to his apartment and, with the help of some cleaning products, cleaned up the â€œlittle bit of bloodâ€ on the dining room floor and by the front door where Maasâ€™ body had been propped up for a time.
â€œI didnâ€™t feel very good about what was going on or how I got myself into this mess,â€ Legebokoff said.
Concerned about his own safety, Legebokoff said he brought the pickaroon and an axe he had stored in his truck, into his apartment, and placed one in his bedroom and the other by the door.
He also said he began using drugs while at work at a local auto dealership where he was a parts man.
It was just a few days later, he testified, when X, Z, and Montgomery, who Legebokoff said he had never seen before came by.
Once again, they were smoking crack in the living room and when Montgomery went into the washroom, Legebokoff said X told him â€œshe was going to be dead.â€
He said Z then pulled a steel bar with a crimped end he had been carrying in the inside of a pant leg and handed it to X who hit Montgomery on the side of her face as soon as she came out the door.
X chased Montgomery down the apartmentâ€™s hallway towards a bedroom and they fell down, the court was told. With Legebokoff and Z looking on, X stayed on top of her for maybe five minutes and appeared to be choking Montgomery.
X then dragged her along the hallway and to the dining room. Legebokoff said Z then asked him for a knife and he handed him one from the kitchen that he used to cut her throat.
Legebokoff said X then asked him for a saw and he gave him the axe.
â€œI never seen what they did with that… I chose not to look,â€ Legebokoff said.
X and Y packed up Montgomeryâ€™s body in a bed sheet and they left with her, Legebokoff said, while he remained behind to clean up after smoking some crack. Montgomeryâ€™s body had not been found, the court has heard.
Legebokoff said he saw X one more time after that and was told Montgomery was killed because she had ripped someone off and owed a substantial amount of money.
Following his arrest in November 2010, Legebokoff said he saw Z about six or seven months ago at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre where the accused has been in the protective custody unit. He said Z had gotten into some trouble while in the general population and had also been in the unit for a brief time where they talked about what happened to Montgomery.
Legebokoff said at one point during that he â€œdidnâ€™t feel goodâ€ about what was happening and knew it was wrong. â€œBut at that point in my life, I was smoking quite a bit of crack and when you tend to do a lot of drugs, you donâ€™t necessarily care as much about things and things that you should care for.â€
Testimony moved onto the night of Nov. 12, 2010 when Legebokoff was arrested shortly after Leslieâ€™s body was found near a gravel pit off Highway 27 about halfway between Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.
Legebokoff stuck to the final story he eventually gave police, maintaining that Leslie went â€œflying off the handleâ€ sometime after they had turned onto the road leading to the site where her body was found.
Legebokoff said he smoked crack earlier that day.
She started hitting herself in the face with her hands, at first, and then she grabbed a pipe wrench in the cab of his truck and hit herself in the middle of her face, Legebokoff said. Leslie then got out of the truck and moved to the front where she dropped to the ground and out of his sight, the court was told.
When he got out of the truck, Legebokoff said he found Leslie lying on her stomach and with a knife that turned out to be his utility tool next to her and the wrench close by. She was still moving slightly, Legebokoff said, when he picked up the wrench and hit her in the head â€œa few times.â€
â€œIt was out of anger, frustration, panic,â€ Legebokoff said. â€œI didnâ€™t know what to do, but thatâ€™s generally why that happened.â€
Legebokoff said he then decided the â€œbest thing to do was to pull her off the road and get the hell out of there.â€
He said he eventually pulled her by the scruff of the clothing on her upper body into the bush and testified her pants came down and a shoe came off as he was dragging her. Legebokoff said he then picked up items from the front of the truck, climbed back in and drove off in a hurry.
As he got out onto Highway 27, heading back towards Vanderhoof, a Fort St. James RCMP officer pulled him over for speeding.
When the Mountie noticed blood in the cab and on Legebokoff, the matter escalated to the point where Leslieâ€™s body was found and he was arrested on a charge of murder.
Asked why he was wearing shorts at the time, Legebokoff said he did all the time. â€œIt was just comfortable,â€ he said.
Legebokoff said the stories he first told police about poaching in the area were â€œcomplete bullshitâ€ and he was trying to come up with something to get out of the situation.
â€œIt was the first thing that came to my mind,â€ he said.
Legebokoff said he twice had sex with Leslie that night but did not sexually assault her. Nor did he sexually assault the other three, he told the court.
Asked why the jury should believe his story, Legebokoff said he knew what he did was wrong and should go to prison â€œbut for what Iâ€™ve done, not for what the Crown thinks Iâ€™ve done.â€
Cross examination by Crown prosecutor Joseph Temple began late Tuesday and will resume Wednesday morning.