Yukon’s biggest murder trial wraps up
Submitted Photo/Yukon News
Christina Asp sat, fingers laced together on her lap, as lawyers in her trial made their final arguments to the jury.
The 34-year-old is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Gordon Seybold, whose charred body was found in what was left of his torched Ibex Valley home in 2008.
Asp looked down at her hands for most of her lawyer’s closing arguments.
Christina Asp didn’t murder Gordon Seybold, Ken Tessovitch told the jury of 12 women and two men.
The police bought her confession, he said.
“It was clearly a statement, a confession, that was bought and paid for,” Tessovitch said, referring to the undercover surveillance tape that began the trial 12 weeks ago.
The grainy footage showed Asp describing how she and her boyfriend at the time, Norman Larue, drove to Seybold’s property and beat him to death with a baseball bat.
In the video, Asp was speaking to an undercover police officer who she believed was the head of a criminal organization. Asp was offered a job, welcomed into their “family” and told they could take care of the police’s suspicions of her and Larue - on the condition she told them everything she could about Seybold’s death.
The “Mr. Big” operation played on Asp’s tragic history of neglect and abuse and showed her a life where other people pay your bills, take you places and take care of one another.
“This case is the story of Christina Marie Asp,” Tessovitch said. “It’s not a glamorous story. It’s not nice or pretty. It’s made up of an incredible amount of tragedy.”
Telling the jury about the sexual assaults Asp endured from as young as six and how she left her unhealthy home at 12 to live on the streets and work as a prostitute is not to gain sympathy, Tessovitch said.
It’s to explain how Asp thinks.
“She’s a survivor,” he said. “Her history cries that out again and again.”
As a survivor, Asp learned to do whatever she needed to, including lie.
Which is exactly what she did in that video, and numerous other tape recordings of Asp talking about her involvement in Seybold’s death with the undercover police officers, said Tessovitch.
She lied so she could keep her job and reputation with these people, said Tessovitch.
The defence lawyer ended his argument by reading from a June 11 transcript because he couldn’t say it better than Asp did herself, he said.
“Did you hit Gordon Seybold with that bat?” Tessovitch reread his question to Asp when she was on the witness stand Monday.
“Answer: No. Question: Did you kill Gordon Seybold? Answer: No.”
David McWhinnie agreed that Asp knows how to lie.
The prosecuting lawyer pointed out that Asp must have lied because the story she told the undercover officers and the story she told the jury when she testified were not the same.
On the witness stand, Asp told the jury she only stood back and watched as Larue, and only Larue, beat Seybold to death.
But for the jury to decide which was the lie and which was the truth, all they have to do is think, “What’s in it for Christina?” McWhinnie said.
Would she need to lie to stay a part of a crime family she was already a part of, or would she need to lie to stay out of jail?
Not only has Asp lied about who swung the bat, she also lied about knowing what she and Larue were setting out to do as they drove to Seybold’s property in 2008, he said.
On the stand, Asp said she didn’t even know where Larue was going that morning.
But she did testify she eventually needed to give Larue directions to the Ibex Valley cabin. She was the one to knock on Seybold’s door that morning.
Asp did these things because she knew if she didn’t, Larue wouldn’t be able to kill Seybold, he said.
Asp knew the cabin was difficult to get to because her mother, Jessie Asp, used to live in another cabin on the property.
She knew Seybold would open the door to her, thinking she was Jessie.
Helping Larue, knowing that he was going to kill Seybold, makes Asp just as guilty as if she swung the bat herself, he said.
It’s true, the motive for killing Seybold is fuzzy, said McWhinnie.
It may also be true that Asp was “half-buzzed” with alcohol that morning, as she testified she was.
You can still have a murder and you can still find guilt even when alcohol is involved, said McWhinnie.
With this in mind, the prosecution lawyer urged the jury to find Asp guilty of second-degree murder, a lesser charge than the first-degree murder she was originally charged with.
Justice Leigh Gower is scheduled to give the jury instructions on Tuesday, at which point they will be sequestered until they come to a verdict.
Larue, who is facing charges of first-degree murder and arson, is expected to stand trial next year.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at