THUNDER BAY - The two men charged in connection to the 2019 shooting death of 40-year-old Lee Chiodo have been found guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping.
Justice Danial Newton handed down his verdict on Friday in a Thunder Bay Courtroom following an eight-day trial that opened on Feb. 28, 2022 against Hui and Saboon who pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping.
“This is not a killing on a sudden impulse or without prior consideration,” Justice Newton said in his ruling. “The act was considered. Mr. Hui volunteered to do that act and acquired the pistol and shot Chiodo who was lying face down in the snow.”
Chiodo’s body was found near 108th Avenue on the morning of Feb. 24, 2019 and it was determined he died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head. The firearm used was never located.
Throughout the course of the trial, Crown attorney Rob Kozak presented evidence that he argued showed Hui and Saboon were responsible for the death of Chiodo and that he was killed over a drug debt.
Evidence presented during trial included video surveillance from a Memorial Avenue bowling alley that appeared to show a man matching Saboon’s description confronting Chiodo before leading him outside, where witnesses said he then got into a car with the man.
The Crown’s key witness, Marshall Hardy-Fox, who was also first charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping and has since pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder and kidnapping, testified to driving Hui and Saboon from a Trillium Way residence to the bowling alley.
He then said Chiodo was picked up and he drove them all to the Mission Island area where they parked at a dead end near 108th Avenue. Chiodo was taken out of the car and Hardy-Fox testified that he heard Saboon and Hui discussing what to do with Chiodo and then heard Hui said ‘I’ll do it’ followed by hearing a gunshot.
“Based on the totality of the evidence, I find the confirmatory evidence satisfies me that Mr. Hardy-Fox, despite his frailties or shortcomings, was truthful,” Justice Newton said.
Defense counsel George Joseph on behalf of Hui and Brennan Smart on behalf of Saboon, argued that Hardy-Fox was not a reliable witness and had reasons to lie in order to spare himself the more serious charge of first-degree murder.
Inconsistencies in Hardy-Fox’s statements to police and testimony were also raised by the defense, which Hardy-Fox said was the result of being intoxicated when first speaking to police.
“Saying he was intoxicated was a lie, but in my assessment does not detract from his overall credibility,” Justice Newton said.
The defense also said Hardy-Fox had access to disclosure when testifying at the preliminary hearing, but Justice Newton did not believe it influenced his testimony during trial.
“Having observed his testimony, I am satisfied that he gave his testimony based on his recollections and not recreated recollections from disclosure,” he said.
Hui and Saboon denied any involvement in Chiodo's murder. In videotaped statement with Thunder Bay Police Service investigators, Saboon said he was in Kitchener, Ont. the weekend of the murder, while Hui told police he did go to the bowling alley but was dropped off before going to Mission Island.
Justice Newton acknowledged that there was no forensic evidence linking the two accused to the homicide but said there was evidence that placed Saboon in the city of Thunder Bay on Feb. 23, 2019 and that Hui was present at the bowling alley and in the Mission Island area.
Justice Newton said he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Hui shot Chiodo and that Saboon aided in the murder by giving him the gun. He was also satisfied that they both participated in the kidnapping and unlawful confinement of Chiodo leading up to his death.
Saboon has been in custody since his arrest in May 2019. Hui was previously released on bail, which has been revoked following his conviction and he was taken into custody on Friday.
The matter has been adjourned to May 30, 2022 to set a date for sentencing.