Mr. Big evidence allowed in trial of Edmonton father accused of killing baby

An Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench judge has ruled evidence from a so-called Mr. Big sting is admissible in a second-degree murder trial. 

During the voir dire that lasted more than two weeks, Justice Sterling Sanderman watched a video of Christopher Lamarche re-enacting the alleged murder of his six-month-old son. 

“It’s obvious by his demeanour and the emotions he was expressing that he was ashamed of what he had done,” Sanderman said on Tuesday afternoon. 

The confession was the culmination of an elaborate Edmonton Police Service undercover operation that lasted almost a year. 

Lamarche, now 27, was caring for his son, Jarock Humeniuk, on May 28, 2017. He was alone in his bedroom at his parent’s home with the infant overnight. He originally told police that when he woke up the next morning, Jarock was not breathing and was cold to the touch.

More than a year later, Edmonton police launched Project Hope. Undercover officers spent months befriending Lamarche and earning his trust. They convinced Lamarche they were with an organized crime group and offered him employment. 

Between April and June in 2019, Lamarche was paid $4,670 in cash for the work he did. With trips to Banff and Vancouver along with dinners out in Edmonton, police spent $5,305 for Lamarche’s food, drinks and hotel rooms. 

“It certainly wasn’t anything lavish,” Sanderman noted. “But there was a major inducement to make a murder charge disappear.” 

Justice Sterling Sanderman admitted evidence from a Mr. Big sting into a murder trial Tuesday. (Court of Queen’s Bench/Twitter)

The judge said Mr. Big was direct and forceful, but not threatening when he urged Lamarche to confess. He claimed he had a medical examiner on his payroll who could write a false report.

“Mr Lamarche eventually opens up and he makes admissions that implicate him in the death of his son,” Sanderman said.

“He’s showing real emotion. He’s reluctant to talk about it and is vague on the details. That’s not surprising, having regard to the subject matter.”

In a second confessional interview, Mr. Big provided Lamarche with a doll and urged him to show what happened the night his son died. 

Lamarche picked up the doll and shook it violently in the air, before choking the doll around the neck. He bent the doll backwards at odd angles.

“I might have picked him up and shaken him while I was choking him,” Lamarche told Mr. Big.

He estimated the assault on his son lasted between 30 minutes and an hour. 

“I think I might have gone back to choking him and once he was able to get breaths back in, he just passed out,” Lamarche said.  

Extensive injuries

Sanderman said the injuries detailed in the autopsy report confirm Lamarche’s account. 

“Jarock’s death was not accidental,” he said. “The injuries were not self-inflicted. Someone killed a six-month-old completely dependent child.”

Dr. Elizabeth Brooks-Lim, who conducted the autopsy, said the injuries and neuropathological findings raised “great concern that the child has been held face down into a soft surface with pressure around his neck and head and subsequently asphyxiated.” 

When Lamarche was interviewed by an Edmonton detective after his arrest in July 2019, he made a further admission. 

“It wasn’t about jealousy,” Lamarche told the detective. “It’s just [that] I didn’t see a very bright future for my son.” 

Sanderman called the conduct of the officers carrying out the undercover operation “exemplary.”

Once he allowed the Mr. Big evidence into the trial, the Crown closed its case and the defence said they would not be calling any evidence. 

Closing arguments will be heard next Tuesday.

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