A Saskatoon courtroom erupted Tuesday morning with cries of relief and tears of joy as friends and family members celebrated not guilty verdicts for Kenneth Tingle, Jonathan Dombowsky and Long Nam Luu.
The three men were charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of Isho Hana, who was gunned down near his home on Preston Avenue.
Hana’s death was alleged to be a contract killing carried about by Neil Yakimchuk, who is facing a second trial on his own first-degree murder charge stemming from Hana’s death.
Tingle, Dombrowsky and Luu were accused of organizing for Yakimchuk to kill Hana as part of a battle over drug turf.
In his decision, Justice Richard Danyliuk said he didn’t believe the testimony of certain Crown witnesses, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban.
Danyliuk said that because of this, he was unable to find a credible link between the three accused and the killing of Hana.
In a 140-page written decision, Danyliuk wrote that while the case left him with suspicions as to the involvement of the three men, these weren’t enough for him to convict them.
“The function of this court is not to simply choose between competing versions of events or decide who appears guilty, or is likely or probably guilty. Rather, upon a thorough review of all the evidence from the trial and a proper application of legal principles to that evidence, this court is obligated to determine whether the Crown has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt such that the presumption of innocence is displaced,” he wrote.