Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stonechild murdered over gun deal?

Stonechild killed over gun deal, hearing told
Darren Bernhardt
CanWest News Service

SASKATOON -- The notorious freezing death of Neil Stonechild 17 years ago was a murder calculated to keep him from testifying at a trial, and had nothing to do with police, a commission hearing was told Wednesday.

A career criminal, known as X to protect his identity, told the Saskatchewan Police Commission in Saskatoon that a gun deal gone bad led to Stonechild's murder by a man against whom he was scheduled to testify.

A second man set to testify about the ill-fated deal was shot dead four months later, X added.

"I never ever heard anything about the cops. If they took him to a field and kicked the shit out of him, there'd be somebody making a fuss about it (in the prison system)," he said.

The first time he heard of possible police involvement was "on the news" when the story broke in early 2000, said X.

The 34-year-old is in a federal penitentiary and appeared Wednesday handcuffed on the stand. His former cell mate was the person against whom Stonechild, 17, and the other man were to testify, he claimed. The cell mate, known as AA, either performed the killings himself or ordered them after learning the men "ratted him out," said X.

"He (Stonechild) was taken out of town and beat up. That's what I heard. He (AA) basically said all rats should be dead and they got what they deserved," said X. "And he said Neil was lucky that's all he got."

Asked what that meant, X replied: "Freezing to death rather than a bullet to the head."

Back in the 1990s in Saskatoon, AA and his brother and their friends were feared by everyone, said X, who worked for them by delivering drugs, kicking in doors to collect on debts, "protecting hookers and holding guns to people's heads," he said.

"It was known by everyone that if you went against (AA and his brother), you paid the price," he said, adding, "I'm risking my life by sitting here now."

He learned of AA's link to Stonechild in 1996 but never went to police out of fear of retribution. His family begged him not to testify Wednesday but X said he's no longer afraid of AA.

"I've tooken (taken) my licks. I'm at the same calibre now," he said.

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