Thursday, March 6, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008 Svekla 'emotional' as he described finding body, trial told Canwest News Service Published: Monday, March 03, 2008 John Lucas, CanWest News Service EDMONTON -- Thomas Svekla was emotional and looked like he had been crying when he arrived at a friend's home hours after finding a mutilated body near Fort Saskatchewan, court heard this morning. Lavonne Lawrence testified Svekla dropped by her west-end home around 8 p.m. on June 11, 2004, and told her he had found a discoloured, disfigured body in the bush while smoking crack cocaine with a female friend. "He was quite emotional. We proceeded to talk some more," Ms. Lawrence said. "He was very tired. You could tell he had been crying." Mr. Svekla, a 39-year-old mechanic, faces two charges of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Rachel Quinney and Theresa Innes, both sex-trade workers struggling with addiction. Court has heard that Mr. Svekla found Ms. Quinney's body in a stand of trees in June 2004. Nearly two years later, in May 2006, Theresa Innes's body was allegedly found in a hockey bag he had transported from High Level. Ms. Lawrence testified this morning that Mr. Svekla told her the body he had found was a "purplish" and "reddish-blue" colour. She asked him if it was male or female, and he said he couldn't tell because the genital areas were gone. "What he had told me was that the female friend knew who was doing this killing," Ms. Lawrence told the court. "It [the body] was a friend of hers, is what he had told me." Court heard Friday from a second witness who said Mr. Svekla asked him to tow his pickup truck from High Level to Peace River in March 2006. "He was a little anxious and panicky sounding; he just wanted to get it out of there right away," Les Kacho testified. Mr. Svekla was supposed to call to arrange the pickup but he never did, Mr. Kacho said. Last week court heard Mr. Svekla boasting to his sister during a wiretapped conversation at the Edmonton Remand Centre. "I'm like the Pickton of Alberta," he told her, comparing himself to B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton, who was convicted last year of killing six women. He also bragged that he was in a special unit reserved for high-profile inmates. "They only keep 12 people up there," he said. "You have to be famous, or well-known. People on the news." Mr. Svekla is the only person to be charged by Project Kare, a task force investigating the deaths and disappearances of more than 70 people living high-risk lifestyles, including sex-trade workers. The trial is expected to resume Tuesday morning. Edmonton Journal

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