Police took DNA swabs and found gun parts and a bullet in a car torched in Langley following a Burnaby slaying last year. (Langley Advance Times files)

Police took DNA swabs and found gun parts and a bullet in a car torched in Langley following a Burnaby slaying last year. (Langley Advance Times files)

Car linked to Burnaby murder already had tracking device, court hearing shows

Dumped and burned in Langley, police found gun parts and a bullet inside

A potential suspect in a murder linked to both Langley and Burnaby is at large and wanted for unrelated crimes in Canada and the U.S., according to a court hearing held this month.

A year and a half ago, on Jan. 18, 2020, police in Langley responded to a report of a burning car in Willoughby, shortly after a man was shot and killed in Burnaby.

The Nissan Rogue, thought to be the getaway vehicle from the shooting, was dumped and set on fire near the 20600 block of 73B Avenue not long after Julian Johnson, 28, was shot and killed at a Chevron gas station on Canada Way in Burnaby.

A July court hearing revealed some of the evidence investigators found in the car and how they connected it back to a possible suspect.

The hearing was held because police investigators need legal authority from a judge to hold possible evidence for longer than a few months, unless charges are laid. No one has yet been charged in the murder.

The ruling reveals that officers found and seized parts from two handguns inside the burned-out Nissan Rogue, finding a slide and magazines for each of the two guns.

A search after the car had been towed to a lot in Surrey also found a black glove, a bullet casing, and a bullet.

“As it turns out, the Nissan Rogue had a tracking device installed in it, as part of an unrelated investigation,” wrote Justice Paul Riley in his ruling.

READ MORE: Burned vehicle in Langley neighbourhood likely linked to Burnaby murder

READ MORE: Homicide investigators probe Burnaby gas station shooting

In the days before the murder, police tracked the movements of the Nissan back to a Richmond hotel. After finding out which room the occupants of the car had been staying in, police searched the hotel room and found fingerprints of a known gang member, identified in court documents only as N.M.

N.M. is not the owner of the car.

On Jan. 28, eight days after the murder, N.M. and three others were arrested on unrelated charges in the parking lot of West Vancouver’s Park Royal Mall.

A BlackBerry KEY2 cellphone was seized from N.M.

The data on the phone is encrypted, according to investigators.

At some point after that arrest, N.M. apparently went on the run. He is wanted in both the United States and Canada for other crimes.

No one has been charged in the murder of Johnson.

The ruling also shows some of the backlogs that can impact a murder investigation in British Columbia.

Investigators swabbed the inside of the Nissan for DNA, but after a year and a half not all of the swabs have been processed by the lab, “because the DNA lab works on a priority basis and will only accept a certain number of items for testing at one time,” Riley wrote.

Police are still trying to get at the encrypted data on N.M.’s phone, and they have been scouring the call data from 67 cellphones, which were shown to be in the area of the shooting, where the Nissan was abandoned in Langley, or in areas where the Nissan was tracked by the police tracking device.

Riley ruled that police could continue holding onto most of the evidence, including the gun parts and the DNA swabs, but wanted to hear more about applications for further detention of the BlackBerry and other phones seized from the men arrested with N.M. in West Vancouver.

Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

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