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Sunday, March 24, 2013

2 Toronto Men Found Guilty After Gang Land Trial


Jury convicts two Toronto men of murder after gang trial featuring YouTube rap videos


Toronto Star


Superior Court jury convicts men of 2010 murder of Mitchell Celise after hearing unprecedented amount of gang evidence.

Two Toronto men who 
appear in numerous rap videos have 
been convicted of murder by a jury apparently persuaded 
that the violence they exalt in their music is more than 
artistic expression.
Chael Mills, 23, the alleged shooter, was convicted of first-
degree murder because the jury found the killing was 
committed for the benefit of a criminal organization, a street 
gang called M.O.B. Klick, a subset of the Vaughan Road 
Bloods.
He receives an automatic life sentence with no parole 
eligibility for 25 years. Asked by Justice Robert Clark if he 
had anything to say, Mills declined with a polite “no thank 
you."
Lavare Williams, 21, was convicted of second-degree murder 
and also receives an automatic life sentence. He returns to 
Superior Court on May 9 for sentencing, when the judge can 
impose a parole eligibility period of between 10 and 25 years.
Jurors retired late Thursday afternoon and returned 
Saturday just before 2 p.m. with their verdicts.
On May 3, 2010, around 3:30 p.m., the two men confronted 
Mitchell Celise, 17, and an older family friend as they walked 
down Winona Drive. Members of the Bloods identify 
themselves with the colour red, and the pair told Celise he 
had no business wearing blue in their territory.
Celise was a member of the Eglinton West Crips, the hated 
rivals of the Vaughan Road Bloods, the jury was told. He was 
wearing a blue baseball cap and blue shoes, blue being the 
signature colour of the Crips.
Celise’s companion watched him turn and run down the 
sidewalk with the two males in pursuit, one of them firing 
five shots in his direction. Celise collapsed after being struck 
once in the back.
The three-month trial included more gang evidence than 
ever before admitted in a Toronto courtroom. Crown 
attorneys Mary Misener and Patrick Clement relied on gritty 
YouTube rap videos, violent lyrics, graffiti, tattoos and 
intercepted jail letters as evidence that the Bloods and 
M.O.B. Klick were street gangs operating in the area of 
Vaughan Rd. and Oakwood Ave.
Defence lawyers Talman Rodocker and Roots Gadhia 
unsuccessfully tried to have the evidence excluded. Williams 
and Mills, a rapper known from his coarse-language 
YouTube rap videos as Heartless G., may have an affinity for 
gangster rap but it doesn’t make them violent gang members, 
the lawyers said, adding that M.O.B. is a rap group, not a 
street gang.
“Mr. Rodocker asks you to separate the man from his music,” 
Clark told the jury Thursday, while giving his final legal 
instructions.
On the other hand, Det. Doug Backus, testifying as a gang 
experts, stated that gangs use videos to communicate to other 
gangs, stake territory, and threaten their rivals. While courts 
are building precedents, there is still a “paucity” of Canadian 
jurisprudence in the area of street gangs, Clark noted in a 44-
page pre-trial ruling.
Two days after the shooting, the friend went to police and 
described the gunman as a person with a tattoo on his neck. 
Homicide Det. Mary Vruna identified Mills, who has a neck 
tattoo, as a person of interest and arranged a photo lineup so 
that a tattoo was Photoshopped onto the necks of 12 people 
in the lineup.
Mills was picked out of the lineup. Forensic testing revealed a 
hat and shirt recovered near the scene revealed the presence 
of Williams’ DNA and gunshot residue.
The Crown also introduced into the trial phone records, 
surveillance footage and text messages, which the 
prosecutors said were full of references to the shooting.
They included a text sent from Williams phone to Mills’ 
number two hours after Celise was shot. “Yo Fam. is MY 
daughter styll wit you.” Backus testified daughter was a code 
word for a firearm. Mills has no children.
After Saturday’s verdict, homicide Det. Sheila Ogg picked the 
diminutive Vruna up in the air and gave her a hug.
Vruna said gang-related homicides are particularly difficult 
to investigate because of the lack of witness co-operation, 
though in this case several witnesses did testify for the 
prosecution.
“We’re indebted to them for being brave enough to come 
forward otherwise we wouldn’t have received the verdicts we 
did today,” Vruna said.
Neither Mills nor Williams testified in his own defence.
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