Blackjack Pro on Trial for Murder of Card Counting Partner Claims It Was an Accident

  • Smith and Lee gambled together at casinos worldwide, making hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • Suspect admitted to accidentally killing Smith after she tried to “screw” him out of money
  • Lee said Smith’s still-undiscovered body is in a mountain rest stop wrapped in a tarp
  • The Alberta Crown Prosecution suggested Lee would ‘do anything’ for his own advantage
Blackjack
This week, a Calgary man who taught his partner Vida Smith how to count cards took to the stand in a trial over her murder. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Fight over $10,000

Murder suspect Chris Lee has told a Calgary jury that he accidentally killed his blackjack counting partner of 30 years, Vida Smith, when she wouldn’t give back his $10,000.

took the stand in his own defense

Lee, 63, who has admitted to killing Smith, took the stand in his own defense on Monday. Smith and Lee were a successful blackjack duo, travelling to casinos worldwide and making hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the relationship ended in a fight over a fraction of that sum. Smith allegedly shortchanged Lee in a legal document deal. The murder suspect said in the ensuing fight to get his $10,000 back, Smith’s “body went limp, and when I let go she went even more limp.”

When Lee found Smith was not breathing, he began to panic. At this point, he told jurors Monday: “I’m thinking, ‘oh my God, I’ve killed her.’”

Ex-crack blackjack duo

As reported by CBC News, the Alberta Crown Prosecution’s Shane Parker on Monday cross-examined Calgary native Lee at his second-degree murder trial, which started back on October 17.

According to the testimony of the victim’s daughter Neda Power on the first day of trial, Lee taught the victim blackjack and card counting after she split with her husband. They subsequently took their routine global with a lot of success, with Power alleging the pair had six-figure payouts. Power stated her mother “seemed happy” and that there was a lot of “excitement and travelling.”

A combination of money and mutual mistrust led to disagreements and a very “up and down relationship” which would eventually lead to one fight too many. The suspect agreed with the prosecution on Monday that the incident in the car was the third time Smith had attempted to “screw” him out of money. 

For Lee, the third time “turned out to be a final straw.” Smith was last seen on July 21, 2020.

Suspect branded an opportunist

According to CBC, the Crown has suggested Lee would use any opportunity for his own advantage, including allegedly lying to police during his interviews after his arrest.

“How can this jury accept anything you say?” Parker asked, adding that the defendant had

such a consistent desire to do anything for your own advantage.”

Responding to a question from Wilson, Lee described the location of the victim’s body as “in the mountains between Banff and Canmore,” at a rest stop wrapped in a tarp. Her body remains undiscovered, however.

The suspect’s cross-examination will continue Tuesday. It’s now been more than two years since Lee (also known as Kevin Barton) was charged with manslaughter over Smith’s mysterious disappearance.