New trial for convicted murderer who confessed to undercover officers in Mr. Big sting

New trial for convicted murderer who confessed to undercover officers in Mr. Big sting

A new trial has been ordered for a convicted killer after the Alberta Court of Appeal identified issues with the evidence of his confession to undercover Calgary police officers.

After a jury found him guilty in 2015 of second-degree murder, Kyle Ledesma was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years for killing Dexter Bain in November 2010.

Bain was shot in the back as he was closing a friend's pub and police have described the killing as a botched robbery.

Some of the Crown's key evidence was Ledesma's recorded confession following an intricate police operation called a Mr. Big sting. Those operations involve undercover officers who pose as criminals to draw confessions from suspects.

Mr. Big stings are presumptively inadmissible and the burden is on the Crown to prove they were conducted properly.

Mr. Big operations

Defence lawyer Pawel Milczarek successfully argued Justice Sal LoVecchio did not properly consider whether the evidence should be admitted.

The Supreme Court's 2014 Hart decision put stricter rules on how police obtain confessions through Mr. Big operations.

In order for a confession to be allowed as evidence, they must be corroborated by other evidence and the Crown must prove it was not the product of coercion or threats.

Officers are also not permitted to prey on the suspect's emotional and financial dependency on the undercover officers.

In 45 scenarios, the undercover officers brought Ledesma into a "lavish criminal lifestyle on the bankroll of a fictitious criminal organization."

Ledesma testified that he confessed to the undercover officers because he wanted to impress them and said he learned some of the details of the shooting from an acquaintance, the news and a Crime Stoppers re-enactment. 

Financially vulnerable

Milczarek argued that Ledesma was financially vulnerable and often told the undercover officers he was broke.

"The trial judge completely failed to discuss or weigh the prejudicial effect of introducing the Mr. Big operation," he said. 

The Court of Appeal also found that evidence of Ledesma's participation in another shooting was not properly considered by the trial judge.

A new trial date has not yet been set.

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