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.
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.