Hamilton murder conspiracy trial ends with acquittal of Brampton man

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Published November 28, 2023 at 7:15 pm

The murder conspiracy trial of Salloum Jassem, a Brampton man charged in connection to the shooting deaths of a couple from Brantford, concluded with his acquittal.

A masked gunman killed Lynn Van Every and Larry Reynolds in their home on July 18, 2019. Around 7 a.m. that that morning, a Chrysler 300 sedan appeared in the couple’s neighbourhood. It patrolled the block for almost an hour, passing and stopping near the house several times.

Shortly before 8 a.m., the gunman exited the car and ran toward the house. Lynn Van Every and Reynolds were standing in the front yard when the gunman opened fire on them. Both died on scene.

Crown prosecutors alleged the couple’s son Roger Van Every was working in the drug trade with Jassem and his two brothers, Jazzy and Seif. At the time of the shooting, the younger Van Every was on house arrest with his parents acting as his sureties. He was inside when his parents were gunned down.

The shooter ran back to the 300 and took off. The car was later found abandoned. Jassem was later arrested, not as a suspected shooter, but on the suspicion he planned the attack at the Van Every home. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The Crown alleged Jassem hired Kareem Zedan to act as a hitman.

At trial, the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jassem orchestrated the attack. However, Justice Jospeph Henderson found their case did not meet this threshold during the trial held in Hamilton.

Back in 2018, Jazzy Jassem and Roger Van Every were in Jazzy’s home west of Hamilton when police raided the Jerseyville Rd. house. Officers arrested the pair and found a large quantity of drugs, including fentanyl.

After this arrest, the crown believed Salloum Jassem asked Van Every to take the fall for the drugs in exchange for $40,000. In this theory, Van Every refused Jassem gave him a motive. It continued that Jassem hired Zedan to kill Van Every for $50,000. The Crown further alleged Jassem provided the 300 used as the getaway car.

Furthermore, the crown submitted that Zedan hired a crew to kill Van Every including mutual acquaintance Malik Mbuyi, who the crown alleged, was the masked gunman.

However, the defence argued otherwise. They submitted that Zedan took it upon himself to rob Van Every, knowing he was selling drug from his parent’s home. They characterized the shooting as a home invasion gone wrong, rather than a targeted hit.

The defense also stressed the crown theory rested on Zedan’s testimony on the stand, but that “Zedan is an unsavoury, dishonest person who has lied repeatedly about these events.” Additionally, Zedan had already pled guilty to two counts of manslaughter. The defence argued this plea agreement gave Zedan an incentive to lie and blame Jassem for the murders.

Both Van Every and Zedan testified in court. While Henderson found Van Every a direct and forthright witness, he did not say the same about Zedan, calling him “not a believable witness.” He went on to call Zedan “an unsavoury witness who has lived a dishonest and criminal lifestyle. He is an acknowledged liar and a killer.”

Henderson continued saying Zedan told so many lies over the course of the investigation and trial, “There are far too many for me to mention all of them.” However, he noted Zedan lied about even knowing where Brantford is, who was in the car with him, and what he had been doing the night before.

He even lied about lying, “he told the officer that he was told to go to Brantford to shoot and kill a person named Ron. That was a lie. On the witness stand at trial he tried to explain this inconsistency by saying that he actually used the name “Roger”, but the transcriptionist got the name wrong. I find that to be a lie,” Henderson wrote.

Zedan also has a “significant” criminal record including robbery and obstruction of police in 2015, drug possession conviction in 2018 and manslaughter convictions from 2021. He also posed as another inmate later in 2021 resulting in his accidental release from prison, resulting in another conviction this time for identity theft.

“That offence clearly illustrates that Zedan will commit any dishonest act if he thinks he will benefit from it,” Henderson wrote.

However, the Crown also submitted numerous pieces of circumstantial evidence the corroborate elements of of Zedan’s testimony including, GPS information from the Chrysler 300, cell phone records. Despite this Henderson found the evidence “does not corroborate Zedan’s testimony to any significant extent.”

Finally, Henderson concluded the crown’s proposed motive, retribution for Van Every’s refusal to take the fall for Jazzy Jassem, did not make sense. Ven Every never directly told Jassem he wouldn’t do it, and the attack took place a year after the raid. During that year, Van Every continued to sell drugs for the Jassem brothers.

Given that Zedan was “an untrustworthy, discreditable” witness and the crown circumstantial evidence was “very weak,” Henderson acquitted Jassem on all charges. “In summary, the evidence in this case makes one wonder about Jassem’s involvement in these events, but the evidence does not prove the charges against Jassem beyond a reasonable doubt,” Henderson concluded.

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