Citizens testifying in the trial of Jessie Blue West, who is charged with the first degree murder of 14-year-old Chelsey Acorn of Abbotsford, will no longer be publicly identified.
During Friday morning’s court proceedings, Crown prosecutor Carolyn Kramer asked for an order of non-publication of names, citing safety issues.
Kramer told Judge William Grist that several witnesses had expressed concerns. She said the “first thing out of their mouths was personal security,” and most of them did not want “colleagues, co-workers or friends talking to them” about the trial.
Grist contemplated the request for several minutes before agreeing. He said he could not see anything in the request that would impact the defendant’s right to a fair trial. As for the personal safety issue, he said if the court can “alleviate that sort of problem for witnesses, we should accommodate them.”
After the judge’s ruling, a friend of Acorn returned to the stand to face defence counsel Brian Coleman, who attempted to show gaps in her recollections of a late-night meeting between her, West and Acorn.
According to the witness, Acorn said she wanted to see “Blue” and the pair hitchhiked to Surrey. They were eventually picked up by “Blue” at gas station near Guildford mall, and taken to his basement suite.
She said she overheard “Blue” talking with someone on the phone, saying “I’ve got a pretty one for you,” which she assumed meant her.
She said she believed Blue was talking to Dustin Moir (West’s son, who has already been convicted of murder in the Acorn case).
Coleman continued to question her story, pointing out other possible inconsistencies including what drugs may have been offered to her by West, where the girls were dropped off and other details.
The trial continues this week and is expected to last for another five weeks.
In his opening submissions on the first day of West’s trial on Sept. 11, Crown counsel John Hempstead said Acorn was likely murdered between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2005.
Her remains were found by hikers on April 8, 2006 in the area of the Carolin Mines exit off the Coquihalla Highway just outside of Hope.
An autopsy concluded that Acorn had died from blunt-force trauma to her head and face.
West, 60, and his son, Dustin Moir, 27, were charged with Acorn’s murder in March 2007 and went on trial in November 2009. Two months later, West’s trial was separated from his son’s.
Moir was convicted in February 2010 of first-degree murder and received a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
Much of the evidence at Moir’s trial focused on a “Mr. Big” undercover operation by police who posed as members of a criminal organization promising a lucrative future to Moir.
During the investigation, Moir confessed key details to a “crime boss,” saying that he helped murder Acorn with a promise of $15,000 from his dad.
Moir, whose statements were recorded, told the “crime boss” that on the day of the murder, his dad had picked him up in Surrey, with Acorn in the car. The three travelled to Merritt for coffee, and they set up a campsite in the bush, where Acorn was killed.
It was revealed during Moir’s trial that Acorn might have been murdered because she had witnessed a drug deal.
At the start of West’s trial, Crown counsel alleged that West killed Acorn because there was an issue between her and his son, and West wanted to “bury the problem.”
Hempstead told the court the murder was planned two weeks in advance, and West purchased a shovel for the purpose of digging the grave.