An accomplice in the murder that John Boulachanis is accused of committing in 1997 claims he didn’t know he was driving the victim to his death.
But that key part of the accomplice’s testimony in Boulachanis’s first-degree murder trial is being put to the test by defence lawyer Marc Labelle. The victim, Robert Tanguay, 32, was killed in Rigaud on Aug. 9, 1997. His body was buried in a commercial sandpit and his remains were eventually discovered in 2001.
The 58-year-old accomplice, whose name can’t be published due to a publication ban imposed by Superior Court Justice Michael Stober, was on the witness stand for a second day Wednesday. In 2003, the same man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Tanguay’s death and he has finished serving the equivalent of a 12-year prison term he received that year.
When he first testified on Tuesday, the 58-year-old admitted that he acted on Boulachanis’s orders and drove Tanguay to the sandpit where the victim was shot, allegedly by Boulachanis. But he also told the jury he believed Boulachanis only intended to scare Tanguay. The witness said Boulachanis told him beforehand that he suspected Tanguay was a police informant and was leaking information on the stolen car ring all of the men were involved in.
While cross-examining the witness on Wednesday, Labelle had him go over a detailed chronology of events that took place before Tanguay was killed.
The witness repeated that sometime before the murder, he, Boulachanis and another accomplice (whose name cannot be published) broke into a farming co-op, filled three bags with lime and stole them. The witness said that because he owned horses he knew lime is commonly used to make things, like animal carcasses, decompose faster and mask the smell. Also, hours before Tanguay was killed, he, Boulachanis and the other accomplice took turns, using one shovel, to dig a hole in the sandpit large enough to hide a body. While they dug, the witness said, Boulachanis showed them a revolver. And when the trio ate dinner together before digging the hole, at the other accomplice’s home, they talked about the plan to bring Tanguay to the sandpit. The witness even recalled how, during the dinner, the young son of the other accomplice stumbled upon the automatic rifle that was eventually used to kill Tanguay and waved it in the air.
“You dug the hole. You stole the lime. You saw the firearm (beforehand). And yet you say that you thought the plan was to scare (Tanguay). That’s your answer to the jury?” Labelle asked at one point.
“Yes,” the 58-year-old accomplice replied.
Another part of Labelle’s cross-examination provided more evidence that the real motive behind the murder involved a relationship Boulachanis apparently had with Tanguay’s wife, Dominique Drouin. Labelle had the 58-year-old witness go over a statement he provided to the police, on Aug. 22, 1997, after Tanguay’s father had reported him as missing.
The statement was intended to put police “on a false path,” the witness conceded on Wednesday, but part of it was true. In his written statement, provided to a police investigator, the accomplice wrote that Drouin was thinking of leaving Tanguay because they were in debt and Tanguay couldn’t feed his family.
The cross examination of the witness will resume Wednesday afternoon.