A B.C. Supreme Court jury is deliberating whether former Devil’s Army president Richard Ernest Alexander is guilty or not guilty of the first-degree murder of mixed martial arts fighter Dillon Brown.
Brown, 30, was shot in the back of the head at the outlaw motorcycle clubhouse in Campbell River on March 11, 2016. Alexander denies killing Brown but admitted in a court document that he drove Brown’s car with Brown’s body in the trunk to Sayward and abandoned the car by the side of the road.
The Crown alleges that Alexander killed Brown to put an end to a lawsuit that would have made the Hells Angels and its puppet club, the Devil’s Army, look bad. Brown was suing the Voodoo Lounge in Campbell River for injuries he received in a fight with three to five bikers in November 2015.
The defence has not called any witnesses and is accusing X, a former member of the Devil’s Army, now a key Crown protected witness, of snapping and killing Brown that day.
The trial, which began Feb. 14, was held under heavy security. People attending court are required to have their belongings searched, then pass through a metal detector to be scanned by a sheriff with a security wand. Half of the third floor was sealed off when protected witnesses were testifying.
On Monday afternoon, Justice Geoffrey Gaul instructed the 11-member jury on the rules of law as they apply in this case. The fundamental issue is identity. The jury must decide if the Crown has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Alexander killed Brown.
In his final submissions, criminal defence lawyer Brent Anderson told jurors they should have a reasonable doubt that Alexander murdered Brown and find him not guilty of first-degree murder.
X is the likely killer and his evidence cannot be trusted, said Anderson. There is also evidence to show Alexander was driving his truck away from the clubhouse shortly before the murder occurred, he said.
Anderson urged the jury not to be misled or swayed by X’s emotional testimony, which he described as “feigned crying.”
X has a powerful motive to lie, Anderson charged. He knew he was a suspect in the murder because the phone he was using was at the scene of the crime when Brown was killed. X was given a clear choice — he could either be a suspect or a witness, said Anderson. After his first police interview, X went home and told his wife Y that he thought he was facing 20 years in prison.
“He believed he would be charged with homicide if he didn’t cooperate with the police and he hoped he would avoid any charge and avoid jail completely if he cooperated,” said Anderson.
X’s claim that he wasn’t aware the police were paying more than $100,000 for his legal fees is complete nonsense, said Anderson. X was broke at the time, had an expensive cocaine habit and was bad with money.
X also received immunity for his testimony and can’t be prosecuted for the murder or for his admitted cocaine trafficking, said the defence lawyer.
He was a habitual liar. He repeatedly lied to his wife about his knowledge of the murder and about his use of her phone. He also lied to the police, said Anderson.
X also told his wife that he saw “Rick holding a gun and he froze,” said Anderson.
“That is a jaw dropping prior inconsistent statement that X made to his wife probably because he was still trying to figure out what to say to police when he told her that,” he said.
X’s story just doesn’t make sense, said Anderson. X testified that it took 30 to 45 seconds for him to walk to the clubhouse gate, close it and enter the clubhouse. During this time, a gun was produced, Brown was shot and Alexander entered a washroom and hid the gun.
“It’s next to impossible for all that to happen in 30 to 45 seconds,” said Anderson, urging the jury to reject X’s evidence and acquit Alexander.
X was at the clubhouse when Brown arrived and was there when Brown was murdered, said Anderson. He also had access to firearms and ammunition.
X was at a real low point in his life on the day of the killing. He was feeling bitter about losing his career. He was sleep-deprived and paranoid on cocaine.
“He snapped and killed Brown because he wanted to solidify his reputation in the biker world,” said Anderson.
The defence lawyer told the jury to reject the evidence of X’s wife or of his biker friend, Mick Hargreaves, who testified that X told him about the murder on two occasions.
Anderson also noted that Brown’s partner Nicole Herman didn’t tell police that Brown told her he was going to meet “Ricky” for five years. Similarly, Hailey Lagos only disclosed the name to police seven years after the murder.
Both women testified they withheld the name because they were terrified and afraid for their lives.
Anderson played a video of a black Ford F150, identical to Alexander’s, driving away from the clubhouse on March 11, 2016 at 1:14 p.m. — the time X testified that Alexander arrived at the clubhouse.
“If you believe that Mr. Alexander was driving his truck away from the clubhouse at this time, it makes it highly unlikely he was at the clubhouse when Dillon Brown arrived. … If this evidence leads you to have a reasonable doubt that Mr. Alexander was at the clubhouse at the time of the murder in light of all the evidence, you must acquit him.”