Fraser double-murder trial: Jury convicts on first- and second-degree
Roy Fraser showed no emotion in a Kamloops courtroom on Saturday, Dec. 14, as a jury found him guilty as charged on one count each of first- and second-degree murder.
It took more than 20 hours of deliberation over three days for the jurors to convict the 56-year-old in the April 2009 murders of Ken Yaretz Jr., 25, and Damien Marks, 31.
The convictions bring with them automatic life sentences. The finding of guilty on the first-degree murder count also means Fraser will spend 25 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.
Read every KTW story on the trial by clicking here.
In sentencing Fraser, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Josephson had harsh words for the double-murderer.
“These were unspeakable acts of execution-style brutality of two young men who had their whole lives ahead of them,” he said.
The families of both victims spent every day in court for the trial’s five-week duration. They were happy with the outcome, but said it can’t bring them closure.
“They could have hung him and there’s no closure,” Robert Marks, Damien’s father, said outside the courtroom.
“I don’t know where people get that word from.”
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Ken Yaretz Sr. said the outcome was the best he could have hoped for.
“I think justice has been served,” he said.
“It’s been a hard five weeks for everybody, both families — a lot of sleepless nights.”
After the verdict, both families could be seen crying and hugging one another outside the courtroom.
Yaretz Sr. said the two families had grown close throughout the trial.
“We’ve got a close bond together,” he said.
“We’ve become pretty close.”
Yaretz Jr. and Marks were last seen alive on April 17, 2009, when they left Kamloops headed for Fraser’s Knouff Lake property, ostensibly to retrieve some of Yaretz’s belongings.
Their bodies were found five weeks later in a shallow grave near Fraser’s house.
Both men had been shot multiple times, including twice in the head. Marks had also been stabbed eight times.
The Crown theorized Fraser had killed Yaretz first. Marks witnessed the murder, and Fraser then killed him as well.
The first-degree charge was in relation to Marks’ death.
The Crown presented no evidence indicating Marks’ murder was premeditated other than its theory about Yaretz being killed first.
Yaretz, a convicted drug dealer, was an associate of the Independent Soldiers street gang and had run a marijuana-grow operation at the Knouff Lake property with Fraser in late 2008.
Fraser was a convicted marijuana trafficker who had admitted to operating multiple grow-ops in the past.
Marks had no criminal record. He and Yaretz developed a close friendship in the year leading up to their death.
The jury heard Yaretz had taken Fraser’s pickup truck and signed it over to Kelowna gangsters, and failed to pay Fraser his share after the 2008 grow-op.
Fraser was arrested and charged in October 2009, and remained in custody until being granted bail at the conclusion of his preliminary inquiry in January 2012. There is a chance he could receive two-for-one credit for those two-and-a-half years spent in pre-trial custody.
Yaretz Sr. took issue with the way his son has been portrayed both in the courtroom and in news stories.
“I don’t appreciate what the media has done for the last five weeks, and the last almost four years,” he said.
“Sure, they [Yaretz Jr. and Marks] went out and they did what they did to expect to get ahead in life.”
Yaretz Sr. said he’s happy to know the man who killed his son will be spending the holidays in a jail cell.
“We’re all going to be able to go home,” he said.
“He’ll be eating his turkey dinner on plastic plates and spoons.
“But, there’s never closure. We’ll live without our boys for the rest of our lives.”