Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fatal beating in Stony Mountain Institution detailed for jurors

A Winnipeg gang member was only supposed to be taught a lesson -- not targeted for death -- when several fellow inmates jumped him inside Stony Mountain prison.
But the man who claims he stood by and watched the fatal attack unfold says the "timed beating" quickly got out of control.
"I knew it was getting out of hand. I pretty much said 'Holy (expletive), you guys are overdoing it," Steven Courchene told jurors Tuesday. "I think they all looked at him after and knew...he wasn't moving at all."
Courchene, 32, is the Crown's key witness in the case of four men on trial for the March 2005 slaying. He was granted immunity by Manitoba justice officials in exchange for his testimony.
David Tavares, 40, died of trauma after being attacked in a prison recreation room. Victor Ryle, who is accused of ordering the attack, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. Alvin Cote, Charles Coaster and Evan Myran allegedly carried out the attack and are charged with second-degree murder.

Courchene, Tavares and the accused were all members of the Native Syndicate street gang who were being housed in the same unit at the medium-security federal prison just north of Winnipeg. Tavares had angered his fellow gangsters by his conduct, which included openly complaining about several people owing him money for tobacco he'd sold them behind bars, court was told.

Courchene said an executive gang decision was made to give Tavares a "deboard", which is gang slang for a timed beating. Courchene said he was assigned to keep track of how long it lasted. The typical length of a beating was between 30 seconds and three minutes, he said.
Tavares knew what was coming but didn't agree with it.
"As the day went on he became angrier and angrier. He was upset about it, he thought it was bull," said Courchene. The beating was supposed to happen in a prison washroom, but Tavares refused to go along with the plan. Courchene told jurors that Cote, Coaster and Myran - acting on orders from Ryle - attacked him near some pool tables. Tavares was repeatedly kicked, punched and eventually dragged into a washroom, where he was left in a pool of blood.
Tavares was found unconscious after staff closed the recreation centre. He was taken to the infirmary and was later pronounced dead.
RCMP Cpl. Ian MacInnis previously told jurors how investigators got a major break when Courchene contacted them weeks after the killing, wanting to talk about what he'd witnessed. MacInnis said they initially made no promises to Courchene, who eventually gave a series of videotaped statements after being told he wouldn't be charged in the slaying.

"Timekeeper" lying, Tavares told trial
A prison informant is being accused of lying to justice officials to hide his own involvement in the gang-related beating death of David Tavares.
Steven Courchene claims he was recruited as “timekeeper” while Stony Mountain Institution inmates Charles Coaster, Evan Myran and Alvin Cote beat Tavares inside a locked recreation area on March 20, 2005.
“You want the jury to believe you felt bad about what happened to Mr. Tavares,” said defence lawyer Martin Glazer, who is representing Victor Ryle, the man accused of ordering the two-minute beating.
Glazer confronted Courchene with the evidence of another witness who said he saw Courchene assault Tavares prior to the fatal beating. “You weren’t keeping time at all, were you?” Glazer charged. “You were attacking Mr. Tavares.”
Courchene said he slapped and pushed Tavares after he yelled at Ryle and called him names but had no involvement — aside from time keeping — in the beating that followed several minutes later.
Coaster, Myran, and Cote are on trial charged with second-degree murder. Ryle is charged with manslaughter.
Prosecutors allege Tavares, a member of the Native Syndicate street gang, received a “timed beating” as punishment for a prison dispute with other gang members. Ryle is alleged to have ordered the beating while the other three accused carried it out.
Courchene testified Tavares had been drinking “homebrew” in the hours before his death and complained about debts other gang members owed him.
During an exercise period in the prison gym later that evening, Tavares confronted Cote over a debt, Courchene testified. “They grabbed each other and looked like they were going to fight,” he said. “I didn’t see any punches thrown.”
Courchene said Ryle intervened and told the men to break it up. Ryle and several “full patch” Native Syndicate members conferred with each other and it was decided Tavares should suffer a two-minute beating, Courchene said.
Ryle told Courchene to find a watch and picked out Coaster, Myran and Cote to administer the beating, Courchene said.
Tavares was knocked to the floor and the men continued to beat him about the head and body after he was apparently unconscious, Courchene said. “He wasn’t trying to defend himself, that I could see,” Courchene said. “I said ‘Holy f---, you guys are overdoing it.’”
Courchene said other gang members cleaned up blood from the beating and dragged Tavares’ body to a washroom.
Courchene is living in witness protection and was granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony.

These articles are biased as they spend too much on the facts set out by the Crown and not enough on the arguments that defence lawyers made or any background information on the accused's lives

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