Ian Michael Hewitt choked and stabbed Angela Crossman and slit her throat at the request of his friend, who said Crossman was causing problems for his family, Crown counsel Theresa Iandiorio told a jury Tuesday during opening statements in Hewitt’s murder trial.
Hewitt is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Crossman, 39, whose lifeless body was found beside Elbow Lake near Agassiz in June 2009. His trial, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, is expected to take as long as five months.
At the time of the killing, Hewitt and Crossman were both living in Abbotsford in the Hillcrest Avenue home of Alex Paul, along with Paul’s wife and young children.
Crossman suffered from mental health problems, and the night before her killing she had been taken to hospital by Paul, but later returned home, Iandiorio said.
Paul and Hewitt, meanwhile, were at a pub, and Iandiorio said the jury will hear evidence –including multiple confessions by Hewitt – that after being notified that Crossman had returned, Paul told Hewitt to “get rid of her” because she was causing problems.
Hewitt confessed the killing to a friend, undercover police officers posing as criminals, and investigators following his 2010 arrest, Iandiorio said.
“The Crown will rely on what you will hear from Mr. Hewitt’s own mouth.”
The jury heard that the investigation into the murder was complicated when Paul was shot and killed by a friend on July 7, 2009, less than a month after Crossman’s death. Hewitt was present during that shooting, which occurred in the home of another man.
That man, Iandiorio said, was told about the killing by Hewitt and later became a police agent for investigators.
Integrated Homicide Investigation Team members also concocted a long undercover “Mr. Big” sting that lasted weeks. Through the friend who was working for police, Hewitt was introduced to the supposed leader of a criminal organization. He began doing work for the group, including transporting supposedly illegal goods, picking up loan payments and laundering money at casinos.
The operation culminated with the group’s leader asking Hewitt to tell him the truth about his past and why he might be drawing police attention. The boss said he could fix things and “tie up loose ends” by paying people off.
Prior to the Crown’s opening statement, Justice John Truscott warned the jury that some people confess to crimes they do not commit.
The trial continued on Tuesday afternoon after press deadline, with the defence giving its opening statements.