Alleged hitman in deadly Little Italy shooting sent message about 'contract killing,' Crown says

Alleged hitman in deadly Little Italy shooting sent message about 'contract killing,' Crown says

In a packed courtroom on Monday, the Crown began connecting the dots between alleged hitman Dean Wiwchar and the other three men on trial for the brazen 2012 shooting of Johnnie Raposo.

Clean-shaven and wearing a white button-down and argyle sweater, Wiwchar was stone-faced for much of the day as Crown attorney Andrew Sabbadini showed the jury encrypted messages Wiwchar allegedly sent in the weeks before Raposo was shot and killed on a Little Italy patio on the afternoon of June 18, 2012 — including a message about "contract killing."

The deadly shooting happened while soccer fans gathered to watch a Euro Cup game. Raposo, 35, was shot "four times in the head" by a man dressed as a construction worker on the patio of the Sicilian Sidewalk Café, the Crown told the court on the first day of the trial last week.

The Crown is arguing it was a targeted hit, and part of a plan to steal Raposo's drugs and split the profit.

Along with Wiwchar, Rabih Alkhalil, Nicola Nero and Martino Caputo are each charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Raposo. The Crown said the three had been involved in a deal with Raposo to import 200 kilograms of cocaine.

'Contract killing...that's my bizness'

On Monday, with Det. Sgt. Matthew Hodges of the Niagara Regional Police Service in the witness box, Sabbadini ran through various texts allegedly sent by Wiwchar to the other three men and other unknown recipients.

Niagara police intercepted those communications as part of a covert operation called Project Ink, which was tracking cocaine trafficking in Ontario.

"Contract killing ... that's my bizness (sic)," reads one message Wiwchar allegedly sent under an alias to an unknown recipient, later saying his minimum fee is "100 k."

In another, he allegedly said, "I need to go clap this goof."

Sabbadini asked Hodges what he thought that meant. "I would say that that means to shoot," the detective told the court.

Hodges also outlined Vancouver police surveillance footage from June 2012, where police observed Wiwchar — who lived in the B.C. city — using several different phones that were later found inside the taxi the alleged hitman was travelling in when he was arrested in Toronto on June 21 that year.

Hodges explained that the footage of Wiwchar's movements lined up with the encrypted text messages he was allegedly sending during the same time frames.

In other messages allegedly from Wiwchar under various aliases, the Crown said he talked about being watched by a police surveillance team, and sent a profanity-laden message about figuring out travel plans to Toronto.

The Crown previously said a hardhat, construction vest, and skin-coloured face masks were among the items found in Wiwchar's home in the days that followed Raposo's slaying.

Earlier searches of Wiwchar's other home in Surrey, B.C. had uncovered a cache of firearms as well as wigs, liquid latex skin, theatrical makeup, fake moustaches and beards and other items, the Crown said.

The Crown also said more than $60,000 in cash was found in bundles in his pockets, his luggage and his parents' home in Stouffville, just north of Toronto, where Wiwchar went three days after the shooting.

Wiwchar allegedly wrote phone memo about Raposo

Other messages shown to the court were allegedly between Alkhalil, Nero and Caputo — all using aliases — with topics ranging from the purity of a cocaine shipment to questions about obtaining firearms.

In another instance, Alkhalil sent someone a message saying, "Zelda first degree murder," which was referring to an alias used by Wiwchar, Hodges alleged.

"We know that Mr. Wichar was arrested on June 21, 2012 for first degree murder, and a PGP message coincides on the same day saying Zelda first degree murder," he said.

Sabbadini and Hodges also talked about an alleged memo in one of Wiwchar's multiple phones, which contained the name "Johnny," details about Raposo's black BMW, and the address of the Sicilian Sidewalk Café where Raposo was shot.

The trial continues on Thursday and is expected to take 10 weeks. All four men pleaded not-guilty.