B.C.’s Court of Appeal says a conviction in a murder-for-hire conspiracy will stand despite the acquittal of a youth in a separate trial on similar facts.
"The plan involved an attack on the justice system," B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen said in 2019 of the man convicted of conspiring to kill a witness in his own murder trial.
At the time of the alleged conspiracy in question, Kiir Chol was in jail awaiting trial on a murder charge.
Chol was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder for the September 2014 shooting death of Aladdin Ramadan. Chol was two months shy of his 17th birthday at the time of the killing.
Before the shooting, Chol was in a vehicle with several others. One said Ramadan had a “beef” with Chol.
Ramadan soon unexpectedly pulled his vehicle alongside and shouted for the other vehicle to pull over. As Ramadan approached on foot, Chol shot Ramadan at least three times with a 9 mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol.
When Chol was arrested as he left a Surrey shopping centre, he had in his waistband a gun with which he had shot Ramadan ten days earlier. The gun was loaded with nine cartridges, one in the chamber, the safety catch off.
He was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter and three years consecutive for a firearms offence. An appeal was dismissed.
However, Chol didn’t want one of the main witnesses – who can only be identified in court documents by the initials K.D. due to a publication ban – to testify at trial.
Chol was later convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit the murder of the witness.
Court documents said while Chol was jailed awaiting trial, he conspired with another person, T.K., to murder K.D.
“T.K. attended at K.D.'s house on December 20, 2016, armed with a handgun,” a ruling said. “K.D.'s mother, H.J., answered the door, and when T.K. asked for K.D., she said K.D. was not home. T.K. then shot H.J. several times, clearly attempting to kill her, but failing in the attempt. H.J.'s spinal cord was severed and she was rendered a paraplegic.”
The judge said the Crown said intercepted calls show Chol told T.K. he should kill a family member, in lieu of K.D., if necessary, in order to dissuade K.D. from testifying.
“T.K. is obviously a gun for hire,” the trial judge said.
Indeed, the judge said, the Crown had suggested a large conspiracy involving Chol, T.K. and several others through which anybody could be targeted for murder for a price.
T.K. was convicted on the two counts of attempted murder, but he was acquitted on the conspiracy count.
Chol appealed the conspiracy conviction, claiming the trial judge’s refusal to stay those proceedings against him was an abuse of process by relitigation.
He asserted using similar evidence against a second co-conspirator (T.K.) where the Crown failed to prove the existence of that conspiracy could not be used in his case.
The appeal judges weren’t buying it.
“The doctrine of abuse of process does not preclude the Crown from attempting to prove the existence of a multi-party conspiracy as against different co-conspirators, in different proceedings, relying on the same or substantially the same evidence,” the July 14 ruling said. “It is well established in criminal law that findings of fact made by a trier of fact in one proceeding do not bind a second trier of fact in another proceeding. Moreover, an acquittal of one co-conspirator of a conspiracy charge does not necessarily, as a matter of law, make the conviction of a second co-conspirator invalid.”