First day of sentencing held in Nanaimo hotel murder case

Brandon Woody pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in what Crown council described as ‘execution’

A video monitor shows a man, wearing a black balaclava, walk up behind another man, raise a handgun and fire twice into his victim’s back. The victim falls to the floor and tries to cover his head with his hands as his assailant steps up, holds the gun close to the victim’s head and fires two more rounds before he runs from the hotel lobby.

The video, only a few seconds long, was captured by a security camera in the Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel lobby, April 2017, when Brandon Tyler Woody fatally shot Andrew McLean, who was 34 at the time of his death.

Woody, arrested by police hours later in Duncan, was charged with first degree murder in the shooting, witnessed by the hotel’s night clerk, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder Feb. 15.

The video footage was Exhibit No. 1 in the Crown’s argument against leniency on the first day of Woody’s sentencing proceedings in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.

“The attack on the victim, as depicted on the surveillance video, is a brutal, shocking and chilling account of an execution killing carried out with remarkable precision,” said Frank Dubenski, Crown counsel, in his statement of aggravating circumstances in the case against Woody. “The victim was unarmed, unsuspecting and in a vulnerable and helpless position. The manner in which the victim was killed gave Andrew McLean no opportunity whatsoever to defend himself … once the victim was on the ground, Woody showed no mercy. Even the presence of an innocent eyewitness gave Woody no pause in carrying out this mission.”

Dubenski went on say Woody also wore a disguise which was evidence of forethought and planning in the murder.

Woody also used a handgun while under a prohibition to use firearms stemming from a previous armed robbery conviction and the murder was committed in a place frequented by the public.

Dubenski also recounted how hours before the killing Woody, wearing the balaclava, entered a home on the 700 block of Haliburton Street and threatened several residents at gunpoint to coerce them into telling him McLean’s whereabouts.

According to the Crown, Woody initially claimed he did not personally know the victim, was only given a partial description of the victim, didn’t know why someone wanted him dead other than for the reason that he “goofed up,” was approached and offered a “ridiculous” amount of money to carry out the killing, which he turned down, and that he claimed the people who ordered the killing were people who did not take “no” for an answer and that the killing would be a simple trade of a life for a life and if he said no again they would go after his wife.

Woody also allegedly was contacted by phone by one unknown individual throughout the night leading up to the killing who gave him basic instructions, including which door of the hotel would be unlocked and that they wanted four shots and “was told at least two top, meaning in the head,” Dubenski said.

As for the handgun, Woody allegedly said he did not know where the handgun is, but that it was handed to him by a man in a white cargo van and after the shooting he handed the gun off to a motorcyclist waiting near the Duke Point Highway turnoff and allegedly wearing Hell Angels colours.

The gun was small, according to Woody, and didn’t have a kick. Bullets retrieved from the victim were .22 calibre.

Dubenski also noted that the police investigation into the case is ongoing and that a RCMP officer had stopped Woody on Terminal Avenue moments after the shooting but let him go when the emergency call went out about the shooting, but not before having gathered information about Woody’s identity. It was not until shortly afterward that Woody was considered a likely suspect.

Paul McMurray, Woody’s defence counsel, did not dispute Dubenski’s presentation of facts.

Wanda Campbell, McLean’s mother, who has travelled from her home in Alberta for the sentencing, saw the video of her son’s killing for the first time Sunday.

Leading up to the showing of the video, Dubenski chronicled Woody’s and McLean’s activities and those of their associates in the days before the killing. He said both men were involved with the drug trade in Nanaimo and Victoria and McLean was known for violence.

“Each day feels like I’m just going through the motions, walking in a haze,” Campbell wrote in her victim statement. “Mostly I feel empty and so much as Andrew is on my mind every minute of every day. I will never be able to forgive the person responsible for this brutal senseless crime … It breaks my heart, the kind of life Andrew had as an adult, also that he will never have the opportunity to find the love of a good honest woman, marry and have kids or grow old.”

Sentencing proceedings are expected to continue until Wednesday, March 27.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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