Warning: This story contains graphic content.
The murder trial in the 2015 death of Reno Lee began Monday. The three accused, Andrew Michael Bellegarde, Bronson Gordon and Daniel Theodore are charged with first degree murder and offering indignity to human remains for allegedly decapitating and dismembering Lee’s body. They have all plead not guilty.
The Crown is trying to prove that Lee was going to meet with Bronson at his apartment to discuss business in drug trade. Bronson then suggested they sample product in his bedroom. Two men were waiting inside and attacked Lee.
The Crown said Bronson, Theodore, Bellegarde and a fourth man whose identity is protected under a publication ban brought Lee to a house on the 1100 block of Garnet Street.
There the Crown alleges Lee was bound with tape in the basement and held for several hours before he was shot twice in the head.
It is alleged Lee’s body was then dismembered. A witness, who cannot be named through the publication ban, then drove Lee’s body and Bellegarde and Theodore out to a wooded area on the Star Blanket First Nation. There, Lee’s body was buried in a shallow grave.
The person who drove to the Star Blanket First Nation eventually led police to the grave site, according to the Crown.
The Crown’s first witnesses are Cst. Tristan Manz, Cpl. Darrel Danylyshen, from the forensic identification unit, and coroner Maureen Stinnen.
Manz and Danylyshen first responded to a welfare check at the house on Garnet Street. The RPS gang unit received a tip someone may have been killed in the house.
Police received a key to the house from the landlord and conducted the check. No one was home at the time. What was believed to be small blood splatters, were found on the walls of a basement bedroom. A search warrant was obtained.
Danylyshen tested the samples, which were confirmed to be blood. A sample was sent away and an offender database returned a match for Reno Lee.
Both Manz and Danylyshen told the court they could smell bleach in the basement, and the bedroom was the only clean part of the basement.
Investigators found discarded cleaning supplies in a residential garbage can including towels that smelled like bleach and appeared to be blood stained, empty bleach bottles, two pairs of rubber gloves and a pair of shoes with blood on the sole. That blood was confirmed to be Lee’s.
Stinnen told the court this is one of the most gruesome cases she has worked on and it is burned into her memory.
She received a “heads up” call from the Regina Police Service (RPS) Major Crimes unit early in the evening of April 30, 2015 that they may need her assistance. The official call for assistance came at 6:30 p.m.
She was lead out to the burial site by RPS members, and once she arrived investigators began to unearth the grave. First they found a hockey bag. A male torso was inside the hockey bag wrapped in a garbage bag. Danylyshen said the hockey bag weighed around 200 pounds.
The torso was clothed in a black muscle shirt. Stinnen said there was a dragon tattoo on the chest. Lee had the same tattoo.
Four other garbage bags were found, containing Lee’s left arm, head, right arm and legs.
Lee’s head was wrapped in red and white packing tape that repeated the word “fragile”. Stinnen told the court it appeared as though Lee’s head had been bleeding.
The same tape was wrapped around his right wrist and ankles.
Lee’s body was then transported to the Pasqua Hospital to await an autopsy.
In total, the Crown plans on calling more than 20 witnesses. The trial is scheduled to last six weeks.
This trial was scheduled to begin Thursday, but was postponed after two jurors requested to be excused. Justice Catherine Dawson granted the request.
Another juror requested to be excused for personal matters Monday morning. After a lengthy period of discussion, Dawson granted the request. The trial will continue with 13 jurors instead of 14.