Thursday April 24, 2014

Fraser denies killing two men

But he admits to growing marijuana and says he thought one of murdered men could 'move pot for me'

Roy Fraser

The 56-year-old roofer and marijuana grower on trial for allegedly murdering Damien Marks and Ken Yaretz Jr. testified Monday he doesn't know what happened to the pair.

The defence opened its case by putting Roy Fraser on the stand. He is charged with first-degree murder of Marks and second-degree murder of Yaretz Jr.

Fraser said he did not kill the men nor does he know who put .22-calibre bullets in the back and sides of their heads.

The two men were discovered buried in a shallow grave on the property where Fraser lived at Knouff Lake.

"Other than roofing, did you do anything to supplement your income?" asked defence lawyer Jordan Watt

"Yes, I grew marijuana," Fraser replied.

Fraser testified to moving to the property in 2005, growing three crops during that year and the next. He eventually stopped after being warned by RCMP, who came on his property without a search warrant.

But Fraser said he was still was still looking to sell the product and a female friend introduced him to Yaretz Jr. in late 2007.

"I thought he could move pot for me," Fraser said.

The Crown's case against Fraser is based entirely on circumstantial evidence.

Prosecutors have suggested Fraser was increasing angry that Yaretz Jr. had taken his truck and never returned it. There is also evidence that Yaretz Jr. was interested in taking Fraser's wildlife mounts — worth as much as $75,000 — to pay debts.

Investigators found blood beneath the entryway of Fraser's home as well as in Marks' van — blood that was washed away in a botched clean-up effort.

The two men were last heard from by friends and family on April 17, 2009, en route to pick up Yaretz Jr.'s furniture from Knouff Lake. The van was found parked in front of Marks' former apartment two days later.

Fraser said he was watching a neighbour's house at the time the two men went missing.

In cross-examination, Fraser admitted he wasn't truthful with an RCMP officer working on what was then a missing persons investigation in late April 2009.

He failed to tell police that Yaretz visited his property in spring, cutting the lock to the driveway, kicking in a garage door and taking grow-op materials.

"You didn't want him to know any hard feelings between you and Mr. Yaretz," suggested Crown lawyer Tim Livingston.

"I came for information about my truck," countered Fraser. "I was getting questions on my criminal relationship with Kenny Yaretz."

Fraser started another grow-op late in 2008 with Yaretz Jr., his sometimes roommate, as a partner. Fraser said he did it as a favour to begin with because Yaretz Jr. obtained starter plants for a proposed operation in Barriere that didn't get started.

He said Yaretz Jr.'s electrician father, Ken Sr., visited his property to do a B.C. Hydro bypass for the grow-op.

It was around that time Yaretz Jr. told Fraser he'd "just become an Independent Soldier."

Fraser also said Yaretz Jr.'s friend named "Marky" — his boss in the gang — came to help harvest the marijuana. But Yaretz Jr. never paid Fraser for the crop.

He also didn't tell the missing persons investigator about Marky's visit nor about handguns he said Marks and Yaretz Jr. showed him on one visit to his home.

While witnesses have testified to missing flooring in the entryway — where police discovered blood in the joists below — Fraser said he tore it out because it was wet from a poor roofing job done by friends.

He testified he never used the hole on the property where he asked a contractor to dig in the months before. His intention was to place cast-off material from the grow-ops in it.

That's the hole where the two men were found by police about a month after their disappearance.

The cross-examination is slated to continue Tuesday.

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