NEWMARKET, Ont. - A woman accused of arranging to have her parents murdered in a staged home invasion had nothing to do with the robbery — led by a "psychopathic killer" desperate for cash — that left her mother dead and her father severely wounded, her lawyer said Tuesday.
Jennifer Pan had a history of lying and had previously plotted to have her father killed only to have the deal fall through, but on the night of Nov. 8. 2010, "there was no plan," defence lawyer Paul Cooper told a Newmarket, Ont. court in his closing arguments.
"The events of that night were never supposed to happen," he said.
Pan, 28, "would never be part of any plan to hurt her mother and she wasn't part of a plan to hurt her father," he said.
"If this was a planned murder, why carry out the charade of the robbery?" he asked the jury. "Why didn't the intruders shoot Mr. and Mrs. Pan immediately?"
The attack was part of a "sloppy robbery" led by "idiots in a hurry," the lawyer argued.
Calling the shots was Eric Carty, Cooper alleged, who was initially among Pan's co-accused but is now to be tried separately after his lawyer fell ill. Court has heard he is currently serving a life sentence in a 2009 murder.
"Eric Carty is a psychopathic killer with a bad shot," Cooper said, noting that the victim in the 2009 murder survived for some time after being gunned down.
An experienced criminal with so little money he could rarely afford gas, Carty was a "very dangerous man with nothing to lose" and a tendency to turn violent when thwarted, the lawyer alleged.
When he realized he wouldn't get the cash he sought from the Pans, Carty grew frustrated, the lawyer said, suggesting he was the one to decide to shoot the couple.
"One shooter unilaterally made the decision" to kill, sending the others in a panic because murder had not been part of the plan, he said.
Pan and three others — including her on-again, off-again boyfriend Daniel Wong — are on trial together on a charge of first-degree murder. Also charged are Lenford Crawford and David Mylvaganam.
Pan's 53-year-old mother, Bieh Ha Pan, was shot dead. Her father, Hann Pan, 60, was shot in the face but survived.
The Crown alleges Pan hatched a plan to have her parents killed so that she could be with Wong, who they had forbidden her from seeing. The couple broke up before the attack, and Pan testified she no longer had any romantic interest in him by that time.
She told the court during trial that she abandoned any plans to have her father killed after an earlier attempt failed because the man she hired took off with her money.
It was her own murder she was trying to arrange, she said, after a rift with her parents threw her in a deep depression. But she said she called off the hit when the situation appeared to improve.
Cooper told the jury that while his client has done many questionable things, they cannot convict her of murder unless they believe beyond a reasonable doubt that she meant for both of her parents to die that night.
Pan's "absurd web of lies (and) deceit spanning 10 years" show her to be a sheltered young woman with the social skills of a teenager, but they don't make her a murderer, Cooper said.
"Jennifer Pan is not on trial for being a bad person...for being a liar," he said.
During trial, Pan testified that family relations crumbled after her parents discovered she'd been lying to them for years about her studies, her work and her relationship with Wong.
She tried to take her own life, but then arranged to have someone else carry out the killing for $10,000 so that her brother could benefit from her life insurance policy, she told court.
But she said she changed her mind that fall after enrolling at a Toronto college, a move that seemed to restore her parents' trust and start to mend their relationship.
As a result, she was told to pay an $8,500 cancellation fee, which her lawyer said she was amassing in the days before the attack.
Pan maintained throughout her testimony that she didn't know about the break-in and didn't mean for her mother to die.
She initially appeared to be a victim in the incident at her family’s home in Markham, north of Toronto.
She cried on the stand as she recalled hearing two shots in the basement, her mother screaming, then more shots. At the time, Pan said, she was tied to the top-floor banister, adding the intruders had already ransacked the home.
Pan also told the court none of her co-accused, which still included Carty at the time, were among the intruders. But Cooper said her fear during the robbery may have interfered with her ability to recognize the attackers.
By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press