Verma trial: Undercover officer testifies
Sep 25, 2013 / 6:42 am
One of the most anticipated witnesses took the stand at Joelon Verma’s first-degree murder trial on Tuesday and testified about the days he spent sharing a jail cell as an undercover RCMP operative.
The officer, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, is a member of the undercover unit of the Southeast Major Crimes Unit and is routinely placed in cells alongside suspects whom police believe have committed crimes.
On June 25, 2010 – the same day that Verma was arrested – the officer says he was brought into the Kelowna RCMP detachment by a uniformed officer. As per their plan to add credibility to his cover, the unnamed officer started a fight and was tasered, then placed inside the same jail cell as Verma.
At the time he had very few details about the ‘target’, only Verma’s name and his offence. He would spent the next 43 hours confined to the cell, only allowed out to ‘visit his lawyer’, during which time he would make his notes on the conversations they had together.
The officer testified that he and Verma “talked a lot and bonded a lot” during their short time together, chatting about their situations, hobbies and personal lives.
To further add credibility to his persona, the officer used a back-story that a female had stolen his wallet and when police arrived and learned of his prior criminal record, he was thrown in jail. He also told the court that he attempted to build a rapport with Verma by telling him that he had gone through his own murder trial as a young offender and noted how that had affected his life and his family.
Surveillance video of the jail cell was shown to the court, but most of the audio was unintelligible. It included six different clips of the two men talking both in the open and under a blanket, which is a practice criminals use to ensure their privacy. The officer testified that he was wired up for these talks and audio of those recordings was also played for the court and was more understandable.
The officer can be heard asking Verma if there was any evidence such as DNA, or witnesses that can talk, and Verma is heard replying “No”.
Testimony continues on Wednesday.
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