Double-murder preliminary inquest begins
Security was high in a Kamloops courtroom on Monday, Jan. 9, as the preliminary inquiry of a man accused in a 2009 double-murder began.
Three sheriffs — one in the prisoner’s box, one just outside it and another in the gallery — stood guard in Courtroom 3B at the Kamloops Law Courts for the start of Roy Frederick Fraser’s two-week hearing.
The 54-year-old is facing one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in connection to the deaths of Kenneth Yaretz and Damien Marks.
The bodies of Yaretz, 24, and Marks, 31, were discovered in May 2009 in a shallow grave on a Knouff Lake property owned by Fraser.
Fraser turned himself in to police in Burnaby on October 25, 2010, less than 12 hours after Kamloops Mounties held a press conference announcing they had obtained a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest in connection with the murders.
At the press conference, Mounties described the investigation as “painstaking” and said DNA played a large part in securing charges.
During the course of the investigation, Kamloops RCMP received help from a forensic botanist and a forensic knot-tying expert.
Yaretz and Marks, who were close friends and roommates, disappeared in mid-April of 2009 while apparently moving into a four-plex in Brocklehurst.
Yaretz had a criminal history, including a conviction for trafficking in a controlled substance in 2007, for which he was sentenced to nine months in jail.
He is also alleged to have been an associate of Jayme Russell, who Mounties at one time identified as the local leader of the Independent Soldiers street gang.
Russell is now serving a federal jail sentence.
After Marks and Yaretz went missing, Robert Marks — Damien’s father — said he believed his son was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The elder Marks was the first witness called as the preliminary inquiry got underway.
During a court appearance in March 2011, Fraser pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and elected trial by judge and jury in B.C. Supreme Court.
A preliminary inquiry is a hearing after which a provincial court judge decides whether there is enough evidence for a matter to proceed to trial.
Evidence presented at the hearing is bound by a court-ordered publication ban.