Bronson Gordon said he was looking to make a business deal with Reno Lee in the hours before the 34-year-old man was shot to death.
But, Gordon told a Regina jury, he had nothing to do with Lee’s death or dismemberment.
“I didn’t know what was going on, what was happening at that time,” he said of the April 16, 2015 events.
Often meeting the eyes of jurors as he answered questions asked by his defence lawyer Marianna Jasper, Gordon discussed his past as a drug dealer, his meeting with Lee that day and his dealings with co-accused Daniel Theodore and Andrew Bellegarde.
Gordon, 33, Theodore, 34, and Bellegarde, 24, are standing trial at Regina Court of Queen’s Bench, each charged with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to human remains by dismembering and decapitating Lee’s body.
Several Crown witnesses — including some who said they were present at Gordon’s Angus Street apartment and the Garnet Street house where Lee is said to have died — provided evidence alleging all three accused played roles in Lee’s confinement and death. While those witnesses didn’t suggest Gordon was present at the Garnet Street house, they claimed he directed others, including by providing guns to Bellegarde and a second man and telling them to confine Lee while still at his apartment. It was alleged Gordon then sent the group, including Lee, from the apartment, when they ended up at Garnet Street.
But, on Wednesday, Gordon disputed those allegations, telling jurors he was trying to arrange a business deal with Lee when the situation took an unexpected bad turn.
Gordon said he was selling drugs at the time, both to make money and to support his drug addiction. He described having landed himself in debt with the La Familia gang at one point and that Theodore — frequently referred to by the street name Buddha — came in to manage Gordon’s $15,000 debt.
Gordon said he initially met Theodore in jail while the two were in segregation, and that Theodore “taught me how to meditate.”
“(He) seemed like an interesting guy, just the way he conducted himself,” he said.
Gordon said he understood Bellegarde to be a high-ranking member within the India Mafia, a street gang reportedly then run by Bellegarde’s brother.
In terms of his own gang affiliation, Gordon said he was once a member of the Indian Posse but wasn’t associated with any gang by 2015.
He testified he had access to good-quality cocaine to sell but was known at the time for a poor crystal meth product. Gordon said a woman — a mutual friend to him and Lee (the latter identified by the street name Carlos) — told him Carlos, her boss, had recently picked up a large amount of quality meth from Calgary. The woman offered to set up a meeting between the two dealers, Gordon said.
He said that meeting happened at his apartment on April 16, 2015.
“I was just drawn to him, the stuff he was teaching me, telling me,” Gordon said of that meeting with Lee.
He said they took the meeting into a bedroom, at which point Lee was assaulted by two men waiting inside — Bellegarde and a second man. Gordon told the jury he had no idea what was happening or why, but learned from Theodore — by then also at the apartment — that Lee was in debt.
“(Theodore) said that guy owed some money and Alberta guys wanted to talk to him,” Gordon said, adding he was told the debt was somewhere between $40,000 and $60,000.
He said the group left his place with Lee in tow when Gordon asked them to go. He said he didn’t know where they went, nor did he direct them to do anything to Lee at the apartment or in the time following.
Cross-examination is expected to take place on Thursday.