Boris Bytensky leads defence team in high-profile Barrie murder case
The Globe and Mail, June 11, 2011
By: Tracy McLaughlin
TORONTO – Devon Chambers sat in a cold, angry silence in the courtroom as he watched the man who shot his son five times confess in a videotaped statement to police.
“Ya, I did it,” said Andrew Turner after police slowly wore him down over several hours in the barren interrogation room at the Barrie OPP detachment.
“I can’t describe how I felt as I watched that video,” Chambers says, “I don’t have words.”
But he does have words of anger after the entire videotaped confession was thrown out of court.
Without the confession to help the prosecution, the killer got only eight years in prison for manslaughter instead of a life sentence for murder.
Chambers’ son, Jonathan, was just 21 when his bullet-riddled body was found on the side of an isolated road outside of Barrie, March 7, 2007.
Caught up with “friends” he should have never been chumming with, Jonathan was duped by two men known only as Wolf and Bounty into acting as a middleman in a drug deal.
He picked up cocaine and handed it over to Wolf and Bounty and was given what he thought was $50,000, court was told.
But when he handed the money over to the drug dealers it was discovered to be just pages cut from a phone book.
The ripped-off dealers beat him and held him captive that night in a Brampton apartment.
In the morning, his captors took Jonathan for a “little drive” down the highway to an isolated road outside of Barrie to “teach him a lesson”, court heard.
They chose the Hwy. 407 route where, lucky for police, licence plates are recorded.
On the 4th line of Oro, the car pulled to the side of the road, Jonathan glanced into the eyes of a “mentor” he thought was his friend, Tafari Williams, a wholesale cocaine drug supplier.
Williams looked away and stared straight ahead.
“I knew something bad was going to happen to him,” he said.
Jonathan was ordered to get out, walk over to the trees, and kneel down in the snow.
Andrew Turner raised a handgun and coolly shot him five times.
Turner chain-smoked all the way back to the city.
In court, Turner beamed as he shook hands with his lawyer after learning he will not have to serve life in prison.
While the family of the man he killed reeled in disbelief.
“He pumped five bullets into my boy, then they left him there like a dead dog … how do they call that manslaughter?” Chambers asks.
Manslaughter is defined in the Criminal Code as a homicide that is not murder — in other words, where someone, such as a drunk driver, or someone who is provoked, kills unintentionally.
The Crown prosecutors wanted to show the videotaped confession to the jury.
But Justice Peter Howden disallowed the video, ruling Turner’s rights were breached when he was coerced into the confession after hours of badgering by police interrogators.
“A cold-blood killer’s rights were breached? What about my son’s rights?” Chambers says.
“Juries should hear all of the evidence — that should be the law.”
The judge counted 66 times that Turner asserted his right to remain silent, asking to go back to his cell to sleep, but the questions kept coming at him.
The repeated questioning is a typical tactic used by most police interrogators.
Faced with no videotape of the confession as well as the loss of other evidence that was also thrown out by the judge, the Crown cut a deal for manslaughter.
Turner happily agreed and only once the deal was cut in stone did he admit in an agreed statement of facts that he was the shooter.
“The Crown sold their souls,” Chambers says. “It must have been a tough decision.”
But it’s not the Crown he’s angry with — it’s the justice system and it’s quagmire of rules and case law that has ensured a killer will be set free to walk the streets again.
“My family is a victim of this crime, but what the justice system has done to us, is a violent thing,” Chambers says. “The game of justice is a violent game.”
The trial against the alleged ringleader who is accused of ordering the execution continues.