December 15, 2013 - 10:26 AM
KAMLOOPS - Roy Frederick Fraser has been found guilty of murdering two Kamloops men.
The jury returned the verdicts Saturday morning in Kamloops Supreme Court. The verdicts come with an automatic life sentence with parole ineligibilty for 10 years on one count and 25 years on the other.
They found him guilty of first degree murder for the death of Damien Marks, 31, and guilty of second degree murder for the death of Kenneth Yaretz Jr., 24.
"Those were unspeakable acts of execution style brutality on two men who had their whole lives ahead of them," said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Josephson after the verdict.
The two men went missing more than four years ago. Fraser was charged after the bodies of the two missing men were found buried at Knouff Lake. They had been shot to death and buried on Fraser's rental property.
About a dozen of both victims' family members who were at the trial every day for over a month were in tears and hugged each other in the lobby of the courhouse following the verdict.
"That doesn't bring those two men back," said Ken Yaretz Sr. outside the courtroom today after the verdict.
Yaretz Jr.'s gang affiliation was targeted throughout the trial by the defence.
"The public doesn't know my son, they don't know Damien Marks," Yaretz Sr. said.
Yaretz. Sr., father of Yaretz Jr., shook hands with Marks' father Robert after the verdict.
"We've all had a close bond," Yaretz Sr. told reporters.
While he said it's a relief after the five-week trial, he and Robert Marks shared the same sentiment on closure.
"There is no closure," Robert Marks said.
"Is there closure? There's never closure," Yaretz Sr. said.
Fraser took the stand in his own defense during the trial. He told the jury he didn’t kill the two men. They were found shot to death and buried at Knouff Lake in 2009.
Fraser told the jury during his testimony he was a ‘low-level’ marijuana grower, broker and seller who went into partnership with Yaretz Jr. They grew a crop of about 200 marijuana plants on Fraser’s Knouff Lake rental property. Fraser replanted the next crop on his own when he found out Yaretz Jr. had become a member of the Independent Soldiers, the jury heard.
The defense team consisted of father and son due Alexander and Jordan Watt.
During closing arguments on Monday, Jordan Watt said the Crown offered no direct evidence linking Fraser to the murders.
“This case is based solely on circumstantial evidence, Watt said. “Items being found on his property are not enough to satisfy beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes.”
In his closing argument, Crown prosecutor Joel Gold asked the jury to use common sense when it comes to the circumstantial evidence.
The jury has heard the two bodies were found at Fraser's rental property, Yaretz's blood was found at the house, evidence was found burned in his firepit and the possible murder weapon was found dismantled on the property.
Between the cell phone records and the last time the victims were heard from by their families, they could have been at the property.
Fraser also had the motive, Gold said. The jury heard Yaretz borrowed Fraser's truck and never returned it, never paid him for a marijuana crop they were partners on and he kicked in his shed where he was storing marijuana grow-op equipment for Yaretz for free.
"All of these things... makes him very, very unhappy with this person," Gold said.
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- updated at 11:50 a.m., Dec. 14, 2013 to add details about jury's verdict, the sentence and reaction from the victim's family members
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013