Duo found guilty in murder associated with quadruple homicide
CALGARY -- After deliberating for nearly three full days, an eleven person jury found 27-year-old Yu Chieh (Diana) Liao and 27-year-old Tewodros Kebede both guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Hanock Afowerk.
The body of the 26-year-old was found beaten, shot and duct-taped in a ditch west of Calgary on July 12, 2017.
Two days earlier, 36-year-old Glynnis Fox, 39-year-old Tiffany Ear and 25-year-old Cody Pfeiffer were found shot to death in Afowerk’s torched vehicle at a construction site in the northwest community of Sage Hill.
The jury found Liao guilty of three counts of accessory after the fact for the three people found dead in the burned car, and Kebede guilty for his one count of accessory after the fact for Pfeiffer.
The scene in the courtroom as the verdict was announced was emotional, with tears of both sorrow and joy shed.
"The guilty, guilty, guilty...I'm happy, but I'm broken-hearted," said Cynthia Hunter, Fox and Ear's aunt. "Because it's not going to bring my nieces back."
In the six-week long trial, both the Crown and defence said other people were involved in the murders, but the Crown argued evidence including DNA, witnesses and cell phone data point to Kebede and Liao as pivotal in confining and torturing Afowerk in an auto body shop, while trying to collect ransom, and eventually killing him — then were involved in getting rid of witnesses Pfeiffer, Ear and Fox. Defence lawyers argued others involved played bigger roles.
"I wasn't surprised it was that long," said Crown Prosecutor Brian Holtby. "It was a complex case."
Liao and Kebede were arrested in Toronto on unrelated matters. On their way there, court heard the pair was caught on surveillance images buying cleaning supplies. Blood later found in the Jeep they were driving matched Afowerk’s DNA. Kebede was found with a handgun and the victim’s chopped up driver’s licence and broken cell phone. Kebede was also caught on camera setting a fire at the Sage Hill construction site.
Murder charges have not been laid in Ear, Fox and Pfeiffer’s deaths but Calgary Police Service says the investigation remains open.
"I think it means something to the families," Holtby said. "There's obviously three murders where no charges have been laid yet. I know the police are continuing to investigate."
Fox and Ear were sisters from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation who left behind 16 children between them. Members of their family were in court each day of the six-week long trial.
"They're going to go away for a long time, and that's where they belong," Hunter said. "You know, they took two precious girls away."
A sentencing date will be set in January.