CALGARY — First-degree murder charges against purported gang leader Nick Chan have been stayed by the Crown for a second time.
Chan, 41, had been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and directing a criminal organization in connection with the 2009 death of Kevin Anaya but the charges were originally stayed in April 2017 by a Calgary judge.
A statement from the Ministry of Justice says further evidence was received from Calgary police which “caused the Crown to evaluate its case and led to the determination that the prosecution of Nick Chan for the murder of Kevin Anaya no longer met the Crown’s standard for prosecution.”
“This was a difficult decision as the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service believes there is a strong public interest in pursuing any offences that appear to arise from the conflict between rival gangs,” reads a statement from the Alberta Justice.
“This investigation was part of a larger investigation undertaken by the Calgary Police Service called Operation Desino. It resulted in the conviction of numerous persons associated to this gang conflict and resolved numerous serious offences including a number of homicides.”
Calgary police released a statement, saying they are “disappointed” by the decision.
“Despite the recent stay, the Service would like to acknowledge the exceptional work of the Operation Desino investigative team. This group worked tirelessly to bring justice to the families of those killed. Nearly a dozen men were charged and convicted with eight homicide or homicide-related offences as part of Operation Desino and its several spin-off investigations,” it read.
“Investigations into organized crime are complex and costly and are difficult to bring to prosecution. We are proud of the investigative team and its tenacity throughout this more than six-year operation.”
The statement adds the case against Chan will remain open.
“And investigators encourage anyone with information to come forward,” it read.
“We know that the passage of time often leads to the changing of allegiances and those who may have remained silent may come forward with critical information.”
A justice studies professor at Mount Royal University says the development in the case comes as a surprise.
"This was such a high profile case that I think when a high profile case is stayed, you kind of are taken aback and left wondering what would have led to the stay," said Doug King.
However, King says stays aren't uncommon in the justice system.
"About 35 per cent of all criminal charges in Canada ultimately end up in withdrawing the charge or staying the charge," he adds."When we're talking about murder, first-degree, second-degree murder, the burden of proof rests with the Crown to prove that the individual intended to cause the murder or intended to arrange the murder."
Just because the murder charge has been stayed doesn't mean Chan is getting away with a crime, King says.
"I'm a supporter of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which argues that a person is innocent until they are proven guilty in the court of law, so Mr. Chan is innocent until the Crown can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."
Chan is purported to have been the head of the Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) gang which was involved in a bloody war with rivals, the Fresh Off The Boat Kilers (FK) that saw more than 20 people killed in the early 2000s.
The decision to stay the charges was made Oct. 1.
As with all stayed charges, the Crown has one year to potentially reactivate them.