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Trial in Calgary chef’s death told reference to witness as ‘KGB rat’ carved in cell

Christophe Herblin was attacked in the parking lot in front of his cafe in the 3800 block of Bow Trail S.W. on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Supplied by Calgary police

A sheriff has testified that he found the name of a key witness in a trial involving a popular chef’s death carved on a cell wall.

Anthony Dodgson and Tommie Holloway have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Christophe Herblin on March 14, 2020.

A woman, who can’t be identified due to a publication ban, earlier testified that the two men were planning to break into Herblin’s soon-to-be-opened cafe in Calgary to gain access to an adjacent cannabis shop. She said she had seen both men with knives earlier in the day.

She told court this week that she was worried she might be in danger for her co-operation.

“I was afraid he would tell other people about me co-operating with the police… just the circumstance of me talking to police about the murder,” she said.

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Sheriff Keith Arndt testified Friday that he checked the cell used exclusively by Dodgson during the trial every morning.

He said he noticed something on March 3, the fourth day of the trial.

“There were some fonts on the door frame to the right of the actual door in the cell,” Arndt testified.

He said the name “ACE” was at the top and a message below named the woman and said she “is a KGB rat.”

The name ACE has been written on the bench inside the prisoner’s box where Dodgson has been sitting.

Arndt said the message was initially written in blue ink, but a later check found that something had been used to carve over top of the original to make it permanent.

Later Friday, the defence called Dodgson as its first witness. He told court he and the woman who testified became acquainted on Facebook early in 2020 and met in person when she moved to Calgary.

He said the two of them were hanging out for about a week in early March of that year.

“I didn’t have my kid at the time, so I was using drugs and drinking with her,” Dodgson told his lawyer, Tonii Roulston.

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Herblin was a longtime executive sous chef at the Glencoe Golf and Country Club in Calgary. His new business, Croque Saveurs, a French deli and cafe, was weeks away from opening.

He had responded to a call of a break-in at his cafe beside a cannabis shop that had been robbed twice before.

Police searched and cleared the area, but Herblin stayed in the parking lot for three hours before going inside.

The Crown’s theory is that the people who broke in earlier returned and drove up behind Herblin’s vehicle as a way to get him back outside.

The Crown has said one of them broke the window of Herblin’s car to lure him into the parking lot where he was stabbed nine times. He managed to walk to a nearby gas station for help but died.

Police Const. Alexander Jelinic testified that officers who responded to a report of a stabbing found Herblin slumped on the floor of the gas station. He said they flipped him over to check for vital signs.

“His skin was grey. His eyes were open. I checked the carotid pulse on the neck and felt two heartbeats and then nothing,” said Jelinic.

He said he began CPR and continued until emergency responders arrived and told him Herblin had died.

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Jelinic said he didn’t notice Herblin’s wounds until paramedics removed his shirt.

“I noticed my gloves were quite soaked in blood,” he said. “I noticed a number of stab marks on the victim, possibly six or seven, with a severe stab mark underneath the right armpit that had bled profusely.”

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