SASKATOON – A publication ban on evidence and testimony from the murder trial for a Calgary hit-man has been lifted now that three co-accused have re-elected to be tried by a judge instead of a jury.
The ban was put in place to prevent evidence presented at Neil Yakimchuk’s trial from tainting the jury pool for Jonathon Kenneth Dombowsky, Long Nam Luu and Kenneth Jacob Tingle’s trial this fall.
That is no longer a concern once the men re-elected to be tried by judge alone on Thursday morning at Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
On June 26, a jury found Yakimchuk, 34, guilty of first-degree murder after a nearly month-long trial in Saskatoon.
The Crown had argued Yakimchuk was hired to kill Isho Hana, 34, in April 2004.
Court was told Yakimchuk confessed to the crime during a so-called Mr. Big sting in which undercover police officers posed as members of a fake criminal organization trying to recruit new members.
The operation was initiated as part of an investigation into an Alberta murder. Last April, a Calgary jury also found Yakimchuk guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Juan Carlos Dequina in December 2008.
Dequina was to become Yakimchuk’s brother-in-law but was shot once in the back of the head in a dispute over a drug loan.
In the Saskatchewan killing, Yakimchuk told an officer he had been hired for $40,000 by a childhood friend to kill Hana, whose crew had allegedly attacked the friend. Court was told the friend and Hana were rival drug bosses fighting for territory in Saskatoon.
Yakimchuk said he and another man shot Hana during a chase down a street. He said Hana ran when their guns jammed, and that he initially shot into the ground before hitting Hana in the back.
Yakimchuk told the officer he and the other man then cleaned their guns in the bathtub of a hotel somewhere near Rosetown, Sask.
During the trial, Yakimchuk testified it was the other man who killed Hana and he borrowed the story to impress the fake crime boss and move up in the organization.
He offered an alibi, saying he was in Fort McMurray, Alta., visiting relatives on the day of the shooting.
© The Canadian Press, 2014