This conviction was based on a sting operation which was clearly designed for no other purpose than to extract a confession. It was not an investigation devised to get the truth. Bill Roe's defence of the accused would seem to be less than effective.
Jean Paul Aubee, now Fallon Aubee, made Canadian history by being the first male inmate to be transfered to a women's prison after being declared a transgender.
CBC states "Canada's federal prison service has approved the first transfer of a transgender inmate to an institution based on gender identity rather than physical anatomy".
Aubee called it a "profound decision", but said the journey to this day has been an emotional roller-coaster.
"I think it's going to be a huge adjustment going to the prison for women, not just for me but for the women who are there as well because I am pre-op so there's a stigma that's attached to 'there's a guy living here,'" Aubee said in a telephone interview. "I want to be able to defuse that with my character, my attitude, my generosity, so they say, 'Wait a minute, she's just one of the girls.'"
A local man has been accused of killing a key witness before he could testify at a Burnaby murder case nearly 10 years ago.
Paul Aubee, 45, of Maple Ridge has been charged with the first degree murder of a Burnaby man and will be sent to Saskatchewan for his first court appearance this week.
Thirty-five-year-old David Starchuk of Port Moody has also been charged with first degree murder in the case.
Burnaby RCMP believe both men are responsible for the 1992 disappearance and death of Gordon Robert Spears.
Spears was 19-years-old when he disappeared from his Burnaby residence on Oct. 10, 1992 without a trace.
Const. Phil Reid of the Burnaby RCMP detachment said Spears was considered an "essential witness" for the Crown in another murder case when he disappeared.
Spears was scheduled to testify at a murder trial in relation to the 1990 killing of 20-year-old Kin Wai Lee.
Reid said Lee had been a member of the Lotus Gang at the time of his murder, but did not reveal what Spears' connection was.
A man named Richard Allan Soulie was charged with Lee's murder. Spears had testified for the Crown during a preliminary hearing which took place several months before his own disappearance and death.
"Several days prior to the murder trial Spears disappeared," said Reid. "As a result of his disappearance, charges against Soulie were stayed and he was released from custody in April 1993."
Spears' remains were not discovered until last year in a remote area near Pierceland, a small community in northern Saskatchewan.
As a result of that grisly discovery and the positive identification of Spears, Saskatoon RCMP officers contacted the Burnaby detachment and the missing person case turned into a homicide investigation.
The Burnaby RCMP did not reveal any other details regarding their murder investigation against Aubee and Starchuk.
The remarkable story behind a scattering of bleached human bones found deep in the woods near Pierceland almost three years ago began to unfold before a riveted jury in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench Wednesday.
On trial is Jean Paul Joseph Aubee, a 43-year-old from Maple Ridge, accused of first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Gordon Spears of Burnaby, who disappeared in 1992.
Spears' bleached skull, bearing a single bullet hole in the middle of the forehead, was found deep in the woods near Pierceland by passers-by almost two years ago. The rest of his bones were scattered through the undergrowth.
To explain how a B.C. teen came to meet his untimely end in Saskatchewan, Crown prosecutor Jim Plemel took the jury through a story that sounds like the seedy subplot of a Hollywood screenplay.
Certain parts of the evidence can't be published because of a publication ban issued Wednesday by Justice Mona Dovell.
Aubee killed Spears on Dec. 5, 1993, Plemel said, at the behest of an Asian gang to prevent Spears from testifying against one of their members, who was accused of murder in the shooting death of Kin Wai Lee in Vancouver in 1990.
Spears had witnessed the shooting and agreed to testify, said Plemel, but he disappeared three days before that could happen, in 1992. His family never saw him again, and the murder suspect was set free for lack of evidence.
The gang, according to the Crown prosecutor, paid Aubee to hide Spears under a false name in his Edmonton home for more than 14 months, then paid him and another man - who must be called "John Doe No. 1" according to Dovell's order - to take him to a remote site and kill him, Plemel said.
Police believe the two men carried out their orders on Dec. 5, 1993 - exactly three years after Lee's murder. Charges have been reinstated against the suspect in that case, and he is scheduled to stand trial in B.C. this fall.
Dovell has ordered media outlets to refer to him as "John Doe No. 2," until the conclusion of his trial.
Several years after Spears' death, Aubee and his wife Deanne separated, Plemel told the jury.
While they were embroiled in child custody hearings, she told police she witnessed Aubee and John Doe No. 1 planning to kill Spears, and knew where they'd disposed of the weapon.
Aubee was arrested for murder in 1998, but Spears' body had not yet been recovered, Plemel said.
He was later released without being charged.
After the skeleton was found and identified in April 2000, RCMP investigators began an undercover sting targeting Aubee. It began with an officer going door to door in his neighbourhood, posing as a beer marketer offering free samples and tickets to a fictitious raffle.
The prize - which Aubee won, of course - was a ticket to an upcoming basketball game.
The other "winners" were undercover RCMP officers.
One of them befriended Aubee at the game, and over the ensuing four months managed to convince him he was trying to become a gang member, Plemel said. Other officers played gang roles, as well.
During their often-taped conversations, Aubee "spoke several times of how he shot and killed Gordon Spears," Plemel told the jury.
Some of the tapes are expected to form part of the evidence placed before the jury as the trial continues during the next three weeks.
SASKATOON - When Jean Paul Joseph Aubee won dinner, NBA tickets and a chauffeured limo ride...he joked to the contest people he thought they were cops when they knocked at his door.
They were. It was a sting.
Jean Paul Aubee (pronounced 'o-bay'), 43, of Maple Ridge, is now on trial in Saskatoon, accused of first-degree murder in a gangland-style killing.
During questioning Friday by Crown attorney Jim Plemel, RCMP Cst. Shannon Leibel testified she and another undercover officer posed as marketers when they went to Aubee's apartment in Dec. 2000. Aubee and a friend were setting up a Christmas tree. The officers asked them to take part in a "taste test" for a new beer (a legitimate brand of beer) and gave them instant scratch tickets.
The promotion was set up so Aubee won a case of beer and was told his ticket would be entered into a grand prize draw. A few days later, Leibel informed him he'd won again.
On the way to the Vancouver Grizzlies NBA game on Jan 19, 2001, Aubee was joined by Leibel and three other "winners" -- all undercover RCMP officers as was the limo driver.
The conversation ranged from Aubee's job as a truck driver to the death of his 20-year-old daughter and his friends' envy over the contest.
"He was very friendly, very open," said Leibel, who was stationed in B.C. at the time but is now part of the prime minister's protected detail in Ottawa. "Then he said when we knocked on his door (for the taste test) he thought it was the cops until he opened the door."
The issue wasn't pursued, to avoid raising suspicion. One of the other "winners," who befriended Aubee at the game, talked with him over the ensuing months. He convinced Aubee he wanted to become a gang member.
During taped conversations, Aubee "spoke several times of how he shot and killed Gordon Spears," Plemel told the jury earlier this week.
Plemel alleges Aubee killed 19-year-old Gordon Spears of Burnaby. B.C. in December 1993 at the request of an Asian gang to prevent Spears from testifying against one of its members in B.C. Spears disappeared three days before he could testify.
His bones weren't found until April 2000 in the bush on a farmyard in Pierceland, Sask. The community of 350 is about 16 kilometres east of the border, close to Cold Lake, Alta. The skull had a bullet hole in the forehead.
Logan Davis, 37, found the weathered, bleached white bones with his cousin Travis Palffy. They were target shooting on the Palffy family farm in Pierceland when the bright white skull grabbed their attention.
"We thought it was a mushroom or a stone. Travis rolled it over with his foot and we saw the teeth and upper jaw," Davis testified Friday.
Palffy rolled it back to where it was and the men called the police.
As Davis waited on a bench in the Queen's Bench courtroom to testify, a balding but long-haired Aubee smiled at him as though they were friends. Davis, a Canadian Forces officer from Cold Lake, ignored the stare.
Plemel made a concerted effort to go over every detail of the target practice to eliminate any chance for the defence to argue that Davis and Palffy may have made the hole in Spears' skull themselves.
"We did not shoot into the bush at any time," said Davis, explaining the target was set up at the end of a clear cutline to the south and the bones were off to the west side.
An RCMP expert testified this week the bullet hole in Spears' forehead and in the brim of a black ball cap recovered nearby suggest the victim was kneeling when he was shot.
Plemel alleges Aubee and another man -- who must be called "John Doe No. 1" according to Justice Mona Dovell's order -- were paid to take Spears to a remote site to kill him.
The trial resumes Wednesday afternoon under a voir dire, to determine admissibility of some evidence. The 12-person jury won't be present. It will return Thursday when the Crown is expected to call two more RCMP officers and Aubee's estranged wife, Deanne.
Some years after Spears' death, the couple separated. While embroiled in child custody hearings, Deanne told police she witnessed Aubee and John Doe No. 1 planning to kill Spears and knew where they'd put the weapon.
Aubee was arrested for murder in 1998, but Spears' body had not yet been recovered. He was later released without being charged.
The tough-talking, beer-swilling trucker who spouted profanity and bragged about his prowess as a hired killer to undercover police officers in front of a hidden camera two years ago was nowhere in sight when Maple Ridge's Jean Paul Joseph Aubee took the stand at his murder trial Wednesday.
In his place was a man who looked like Aubee and sounded like Aubee, but behaved an awful lot like a Sunday school teacher.
The 43-year-old sat bolt-upright in his chair through a full day of testimony, turning purposefully towards the jury and using stiff, formal vocabulary as he answered each of the questions put to him.
Many of those answers were lengthy and complex, as Aubee attempted to explain away the mountain of evidence tendered by the Crown over the past month.
He is accused of killing 19-year-old Gordon Spears with a single bullet to the head on a snowy secondary road near Pierceland in Saskatchewan in 1993, and then dumping the body in the forest nearby, where it lay undiscovered for more than six years.
Spears went missing in 1992, just before he was scheduled to testify as a key eyewitness for the Crown against a B.C. gang member in another shooting.
Several witnesses, including Aubee's ex-wife Deanne, have told the jury Aubee was paid by an Asian gang to hide Spears in his Edmonton home for more than a year, and then to kill him.
During a massive undercover operation in which RCMP officers posed as members of an Italian crime ring interested in hiring him as a driver, Aubee was secretly videotaped providing accurate details of the killing, bragging about how well he'd covered his tracks, and even laughing about Spears begging for his life.
During his testimony Wednesday, he told the jury he'd made up the whole thing.
Because the fake gangsters were promising $25,000 for an upcoming trucking job, he was willing to tell them anything, even "steal Jesus from off the cross," to get that money, he said.
"The $25,000 was the motive for everything that took place in the undercover operation," Aubee testified, adding he needed the money so he could hire a good lawyer to "rescue" his sons from "a potentially dangerous situation" by winning custody of them.
It was really his ex-wife and her violent-tempered brother Lance who killed Spears, he said, claiming he thought the young man had moved to Ontario until later on, when Deanne and her brother told him the details.
Lance murdered Spears with Deanne's help because Spears had molested their three-year-old son -- and the brother-and-sister duo threatened to kill him if he told anyone, said Aubee. His ex-wife and her brother have been trying to frame him for the killing ever since he divorced Deanne and sought custody of their kids, Aubee testified.
Though he denied hating her, he continually volunteered information about his ex-wife's past shortcomings as a mother, wife and citizen during his testimony, even telling jurors he thought she might have a sexually transmitted disease.
There was barely-stifled laughter from spectators in the public gallery of the courtroom when Aubee followed one such diatribe with the comment, "I'm not trying to slander her or anything."
While he was under investigation in early 2001, Aubee made repeated comments to undercover officers about wanting to have Deanne "taken care of," telling the supposed crime family she might be a loose end. On the witness stand, he denied any of the comments were about having her killed.
Jury members exchanged glances and wore wry smiles as Crown prosecutor Jim Plemel, appearing more and more perplexed, wound his way through the confusing maze of Aubee's past and current statements.
His cross-examination of Aubee was expected to conclude Thursday (after The TIMES' press deadline), and no further defence witnesses are anticipated. The trial was scheduled to conclude Friday, but the jury may not begin deliberations until next week.
Members of the jury showed more emotion than the accused as they pronounced Jean Paul Joseph Aubee of Maple Ridge guilty of first-degree murder in Court of Queen's Bench last week.
While one juror appeared to wipe away tears, the 43-year-old contract killer didn't bat an eyelash. He stared intently at jury members as they stood one by one to confirm their decision. Most of the jurors returned Aubee's stare as they said the word, "guilty."
On his way out of the building, he was already talking about his next move.
"The Appeal Court is another kick at the can," he told reporters.
Throughout his trial, Aubee maintained his ex-wife Deanne and her brother Lance should have been the ones accused of killing Gordon Spears and dumping his body in the woods near Pierceland about 10 years ago.
Spears went missing from Burnaby, B.C., in 1992, just before he was supposed to testify for the Crown against an Asian gang member in an earlier shooting.
He lived with Aubee and his family in Edmonton for more than a year after that, hiding from the authorities to avoid testifying, while the gang paid the Aubees for his upkeep.
When that arrangement grew tiresome, Spears was taken across the border to Saskatchewan under the pretense of moving to a new hideout.
Instead, he was executed with a bullet through the forehead, dragged into the bush and left for predators.
He was still considered a missing person when two men spotted his bleached skull while target shooting in the area in April 2000.
Aubee was considered a suspect for years before the remains were found, but police had insufficient evidence to charge him, court heard. When he separated from his wife and a nasty custody battle was under way, Deanne told RCMP officers she'd heard him planning the murder with his best friend, and helped him dispose of evidence afterward.
During a massive undercover operation in 2001, police officers convinced Aubee they were members of the Italian Mafia.
Unaware that Spears' body had been recovered, he was secretly recorded on several occasions bragging about Spears' death and disclosing details of the killing. He even drove to the area with one undercover officer to look for the remains, and persuaded his best friend to tell them about it, as well.
His friend's name is banned from publication.
During nearly two days on the witness stand, Aubee claimed he was lying to the undercover officers, making up a story to impress them based on details he'd heard from Deanne and Lance.
However, the logic of his various explanations was sometimes hard to follow, prompting chuckles in the courtroom.
"That was an unbelievable story, and the jury obviously rightfully rejected it," Crown prosecutor Jim Plemel said outside court.
"I think the jury made the right decision. I think the evidence was overwhelming, and they virtually had no other choice but to render this verdict."
When told that his client was already talking about appealing the verdict, defence lawyer Bill Roe said grounds for an appeal may exist in a pre-trial ruling about the admissibility of a taped conversation between Aubee and his friend about the murder. The jury reached its decision shortly after listening to the tape a second time.
It was almost three years ago that Travis Pahlke and Logan Davis discovered a human skull in the bushes near Pierceland, Sask.
Little did they know they had just set the wheels of justice in motion for Gordon Spears, a Burnaby teen who had vanished years earlier just as he was about to testify as the star witness in a high-profile murder case.
Last week Jean Paul Joseph Aubee, 47, of Maple Ridge received a first degree murder conviction for carrying out a gangland hit on the 19-year-old that was allegedly ordered by an Asian crime ring based here in the Lower Mainland.
The conviction brings something of a conclusion to this bizarre, decade-old saga, although the status of criminal proceedings against a second suspect in the Spears murder remains unknown at this time.
A Saskatchewan judge has also prohibited the publication of the second suspect's name in connection with the case, although it is known to be a 37-year-old man from Port Moody.
This tragic story begins back on Dec. 5, 1990 with the execution of Lotus gang member Kin Wai Lee, 20.
Lee had been shot once in the back of the head and left in a stolen car on Abbotsford Street in south Burnaby.
Within a few days, police had a suspect and a witness who could testify against him.
Richard Allan Soulie, 18 at the time, was charged with Lee's murder, and the alleged shooter's buddy - Gordon Spears - was asked to point the finger.
"Gordie," as he was known to his friends and family, did as he was told _ and he paid the price with his life.
Spears testified at Soulie's preliminary hearing in January 1991, an inquiry in which the judge determines if there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal trial.
The judge ruled there was, and the teen was listed as the Crown's primary witness.
But when it came time for Soulie's criminal trial in October 1992, Spears packed up his things and vanished.
Gordie's father, Robert Spears, would tell the NOW years later that threats had been made against Gordie and his family, particularly his older sister and her children.
The boy fled the province, his father said, and began making his way eastward.
At some point, Spears came into contact with Aubee and began living at his Edmonton home.
What he didn't know at the time was that Aubee had allegedly been hired by an Asian gang to shelter the teen for a period of time but, when that arrangement grew problematic, a decision was made to end his life.
That fateful moment came about a year later, and Spears was shot through the head and dumped in the bushes near Pierceland, Sask., where his body remained undetected for several years.
With their key witness missing , Crown counsel was forced to stay their charges against Soulie for the 1990 shooting of Lee.
But those charges would eventually be reinstated in 2001 as investigators began to piece together the last few months of Spears' life on the run.
Just how the teen came to be fall into company with Aubee and the second suspect is somewhat unclear - Robert Spears said neither were known to Gordie or the family at the time Soulie's trial was in the works.
But some undercover work by the RCMP managed to uncover some of the details surrounding the events leading up to the shooting.
Police arranged to have Aubee win tickets to a basketball game, and when he arrived he found himself seated amongst several police officers posing as members of an Italian crime family.
One of the investigators befriended Aubee at the game, and over a period of time piqued his interest in joining up with the bogus mob.
The goal was to win Aubee's confidence and get him talking about whether or not he'd ever killed anyone before.
This month a jury convicted Aubee after hearing several tape recordings where he bragged about shooting Spears after being paid by an Asian gang based in Vancouver.
Aubee's failed defence outlined a different scenario - he alleged that his ex-wife and her brother had actually murdered Spears for molesting Aubee's daughter, and that he had simply claimed responsibility to win good favour with the Italians he met at the basketball game.
The jury rejected that version of events, as did the Crown counsel who tried the case.
"That was an unbelievable story, and the jury obviously rightfully rejected it," said Saskatchewan prosecutor Jim Plemel.
"I think the jury made the right decision. I think the evidence was overwhelming, and they virtually had no other choice but to render this verdict."
A first degree murder charge carries a sentece of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Soulie's trial for the 1990 murder of Kin Wai Lee is scheduled to resume later this year.