The man who gunned down a rival gangster in a busy Langley strip mall parking lot in 2009 has lost his appeal of his murder conviction.
Cory Vallee was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in 2018, following a lengthy investigation and trial into the murder of Kevin LeClair, who was shot to death at the wheel of his pickup truck on Feb. 6, 2009, at the Village at Thunderbird Centre in Walnut Grove.
The murder remained unsolved for years, but LeClair was an associate of the Bacon brothers and the Red Scorpions, and the killing was one of a number of attacks carried out during a violent gang war that involved the UN Gang.
Vallee, 34 at the time of LeClair’s murder, had been hired as an assassin by the UN Gang, targeting Jonathan, Jamie, and Jarrod Bacon, as well as their allies and associates, of whom LeClair was one.
Formerly a bus driver in Whistler and a garbage collector in North Vancouver, Vallee had become involved with the UN Gang by early 2008, stalking and gathering intelligence on the gang’s enemies, according to Justice Janice Dillon’s 2018 sentencing ruling.
He was eventually fired from his job with North Vancouver after repeatedly failing to show up for work, as his hunt for rival gangsters consumed more of his time.
On the day of LeClair’s killing, Vallee stalked his victim all day and lay in wait for him outside a restaurant in the shopping plaza. He fired an AR-15 rifle into the driver’s side of LeClair’s vehicle, the gunfire sending shoppers and staff fleeing for safety.
The trial was lengthy and relied on multiple streams of evidence, including the testimony of four witnesses whose identities was protected by publication bans.
In addition to the life sentence for murder, the judge also sentenced Vallee to a second, concurrent term of life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.
Vallee appealed the ruling on four grounds.
First, he argued that the Justice Dillon should have granted him a mistrial. His lawyers has requested a mistrial after the Crown discovered – mid-trial – that video surveillance evidence from the Thunderbird plaza showed Vallee had been hanging around there before the murder.
Second, he argued that the judge had failed to properly analyze the evidence of key witnesses, all of whom were criminal associates.
Third, his lawyers continued to argue that the killer of LeClair was known as Frankie, and Vallee insisted that was not his nickname.
Finally, he argued that the judge applied “uneven scrutiny” to evidence that supported his contention that he was not the killer.
The Appeal Court judges disagreed on all four counts, finding that Justice Dillon had correctly weighed the evidence.
The judge was careful in her weighing of the evidence of the dubious witnesses, carefully sorting what was credible from what was not, the appeal judges wrote in their ruling.
“The judge made extensive and detailed credibility findings based on the mountain of evidence she heard,” the ruling said. “We find no error demonstrated on which to interfere with her findings.”
Dillon also carefully weighed the evidence that “Frankie” was Vallee.
“She was clear on the inferences she drew and her basis for doing so,” wrote the appeal judges.
Having been convicted of first degree murder, Vallee faces life in prison with no parole eligibility for at least 25 years.
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