Fouad Nayel was murdered over eight kilograms of marijuana, a Crown prosecutor told an Ottawa jury, as the long-delayed trial of Nayel's accused killer got underway on Wednesday.
After six years and several appeals, including a failed challenge last month to the Supreme Court, prosecutors opened their case against Adam Picard, explaining why they believe Nayel was killed in 2012.
Picard, a former soldier, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of the 28-year-old Nayel.
Nayel's family first reported Nayel missing in June 2012. His remains were found in a wooded-area near Calabogie, Ont., almost six months later in December 2012.
Assistant Crown attorney Louise Tansey told the jury of three women and nine men that Picard and Nayel met to make a drug deal in Bells Corners on June 17, 2012.
"One man believed it would be a lucrative drug deal and he brought 17 pounds of marijuana. That man was Faoud Nayel," she said. "And one man brought a shot gun. That was Adam Picard."
Tansey said Nayel was killed at Brydges Road near Calabogie when Picard lured him there and shot him twice —once in the head and once in the torso — and left with Nayel's marijuana.
She said in early June 2012, Picard experienced a "significant" financial loss when his drug contacts in Thunder Bay, where he regularly sold marijuana, failed to pay him $17,000 for a shipment of drugs.
Tansey said witnesses described Picard's reaction over the loss as "shaking and freaking out."
She told the jury he then made a plan to meet Nayel to obtain a large amount of marijuana.
On June 12, the Crown said Picard bought a pump action shot gun for $580 and practiced shooting it in the woods near his Orléans home.
Picard listened to Tansey's statement in the prisoner box wearing a dark blue suit, his hair in a short, military-style cut.
Father's Day dinner
According to Tansey, Picard "began to reap the benefits" of the drugs he took from Nayel, selling them to contacts in Thunder Bay.
When Nayel didn't return home on June 17 for a Father's Day dinner, his family worried, because he had a habit of calling to let his parents know when he would be home.
After the police questioned Picard about Nayel's disappearance, the Crown told the court the accused moved Nayel's body to a spot on Norton Road, several kilometres from where he was murdered.
After her opening statement, Tansey called 33-year-old Julia Battisti to testify. She was Nayel's life-long friend and told the court he was also her regular drug dealer.
She told the court she last saw Nayel on Friday, June 15, 2012, two days before the Crown said he was murdered.
Delays in trial
In the front row of the courtroom, Nicole and Amine Nayel, Fouad's parents, sat alongside other family members.
Picard was first set to stand trial for murder in 2016, but an Ontario Superior Court Judge argued it had taken too long for Picard to get a trial and stayed the proceedings against him.
The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned that decision and ordered the trial to proceed, which led Picard to take his case to the Supreme Court.
Last month, the highest court declined to hear Picard's appeal allowing this trial to go ahead.
The trial will continue on Thursday and is expected to last six weeks.