The night he was murdered, Nicholas Brophy was heading to a friend’s house, telling his mom he would be home before morning. It was a school night, and he was excited to pick out his high school courses the next day.
But he never made it home.
On the first day of the murder trial for Mark Bradley Thomas, 22, and Zach Edwin Linklater, 24, two of the men accused of killing him, Crown prosecutors argued that while on his way home, Brophy was jumped, kidnapped, taken to the woods, and murdered as part of a gang initiation.
Thomas and Linklater have pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges.
Brophy went missing in September 2015. His body was found the following spring, in a wooded area near a hydro line, just days after his family issued a public plea for information regarding his whereabouts.
During his opening statement, Crown prosecutor Brian Wilford said he plans to show Brophy’s murder was part of a gang initiation for a third man, Justin Baker.
Baker, who has pleaded guilty to second degree murder in Brophy’s death, will be a key witness for the Crown during the course of the trial, Wilford said.
Wilford told the jury he plans to show evidence that Brophy’s murder was “planned and deliberate,” that the men jumped him while he was walking home, forced him to come with them to a wooded area, and beat him to death.
Mother describes last time she saw her son
Among the first witnesses called by the Crown, the jury heard from Brophy’s mother and ex-girlfriend, two of the last people to hear from the teen.
Tammy Brophy said the last time she saw her 18-year-old son was at 10:30 p.m. the night he was killed.
“He said not to worry about me. He gave me this big, huge smile, as he walked out the door. That was the last time I saw him,” she said.
During her emotional testimony, Brophy said she thought it was odd when she came home from work at lunch time and noticed the money she left for her son was still on the counter.
But the panic set in in the early evening, when there was still no sign of her son, and his friends said they hadn’t heard from him either since the night before.
Lisa Duke, Brophy’s ex-girlfriend, said she had been texting the victim that night as well, but that he stopped responding after 11:10 p.m., even though he had been responding just 20 minutes earlier.
Undercover officers used
On the first day of the jury trial, before Justice Chris Martin in the Court of Queen’s Bench, the court was also told about how undercover officers were used in the investigation.
Corp. Xavier Pilon of the RCMP testified he helped organize the operation, and that it involved two officers who posed as other prisoners in order to extract information from Thomas. One officer posed as a cell mate, while another posed as a fellow prisoner in a van while he was being transferred between institutions.
The Crown plans to call about 15 or 16 witnesses.
Thomas is being defended by Ryan Amy with Zach Kinahan, while Linklater is being defended by Bruce Bonney with Kathryn Henley.
The trial continues Tuesday.