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Man who ordered hit in drug feud dies before being prosecuted

Steven Thorne promised Christopher Hermkens $100,000 to kill Raymond Dumont

Warning: Readers may find some details in this story disturbing

LLOYDMINSTER – A man who hired a hit man to shoot and kill a rival drug dealer in Lloydminster has died before he could be charged and prosecuted.

According to court documents, Steven Thorne – whose street name was Crazy - hired Christopher Hermkens to kill rival drug dealer 32-year-old Raymond Dumont in the border city of Lloydminster in April 2019.

“Hermkens was promised $100,000 by Mr. Thorne for Mr. Dumont’s death,” ruled Edmonton, Alta., Court of Queen's Bench Justice Wayne Renke when he found Hermkens guilty of first-degree murder in December 2021.

Before the RCMP and Crown could charge and prosecute Thorne, however, he died. 

“At the time charges were laid against Mr. Hermkens and Mr. Moran, there was insufficient evidence to proceed against Mr. Thorne,” Edmonton Crown prosecutor Dallas Sopko told SASKTODAY.ca on Wednesday. “The evidence against Thorne surfaced as the case unfolded. A decision whether or not to proceed against Thorne was going to be made after the trial against Hermkens. Before that decision could be made, Mr. Thorne died.”

According to an obituary on McCaw Funeral Service, Steven William Frank Thorne passed away at home in Lloydminster on Dec. 4, 2021, at the age of 34.

Hermkens – whose street name was Cage - and Mark Moran, were charged with first-degree murder in Dumont’s death. Hermkens was found guilty in December 2021 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Justice Renke, in his ruling, said the killing was planned and deliberate. The court has ordered a ban on publication of witness A.B.’s name.

“The plan to kill Mr. Dumont had its genesis in conversations attested to by A.B. between Mr. Hermkens and Mr. Thorne that began in March and April [2019], before Mr. Dumont was released from prison, at least some weeks before the murder occurred,” said Justice Renke.

Drug dealers didn’t want to compete with Dumont

The setting of the events surrounding the death of Dumont was the trade in illegal drugs and firearms in Lloydminster and Edmonton, said Justice Renke.

“Mr. Hermkens was, as Defence Counsel [Paul Moreau] said, ‘immersed' in this environment."

During Hermkens’ trial, Crown prosecutor Dallas Sopko told the court that Thorne and his associates “decided it would be safer to sell drugs in Lloydminster without competition from Dumont.”

“On the basis of that evidence, I find that the Crown has established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Dumont’s murder was committed pursuant to an arrangement under which money was intended to pass from Mr. Thorne and [another drug dealer] to Mr. Hermkens as consideration for him causing the death of Mr. Dumont,” ruled Justice Renke.

When Hermkens was hired to murder Dumont he allegedly recruited his friend Mark Moran to help him. Moran was being tried with Hermkens in 2021 but the judge split the two co-accused after Moran’s lawyer became ill and was unable to attend court in person. Moran’s non-jury trial is now scheduled for March 2023. The charges against Moran haven’t been proven in court.

According to court documents, Hermkens had never met Dumont so he had Moran identify him. Hermkens and Moran drove separately to the murder scene in two stolen vehicles, and, at 7:37 p.m. on April 27, 2019, Moran pulled up beside Dumont, and his girlfriend Chelsey Hart, in Lloydminster. Dumont was driving a car owned by Hart. Hart was in the passenger seat. She was the mother of his child, and they lived together.

Hart testified that she heard someone say, “Is this him” and she saw Moran nod and then a man appeared outside her passenger door with an assault rifle and fired 12 shots in a matter of seconds into the vehicle. Dumont was hit in the head and Hart was struck with shrapnel. As Dumont died, his foot became stuck on the gas pedal and the car accelerated forward, crossed the street, went through a fence, across a field, and into the side of the nearby Rendell Park Elementary School. The autopsy report stated that “spasm of the lower limb muscles could have caused the foot to press on the gas pedal of the car."

A.B. testified that after the shooting, Hermkens bragged, “I got him, his woman, pretty sure I got the kid too.”

Court documents reveal that Thorne was a high-up drug dealer who had runners under him selling drugs. He sold methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin in Lloydminister, Saskatoon, Onion Lake, Vermillion, Alta., and Wainwright, Alta.

One witness testified that “lots of people used to sell drugs” for Thorne, who got his drugs out of Edmonton. Thorne used the Wickr app – an encrypted messaging platform – to make drug deals.

Conflicts over a woman stir feud

Sopko told the court that Dumont "had a lot of enemies,” and when he got out of jail a few days before he was murdered he made it known to Thorne and Little J that he was angry with both of them.

Chelsey Hart testified that while her boyfriend Dumont was in jail in 2018 she slept with his rival drug dealer Thorne, and Little J.

Hart told the court that Little J got her pregnant and this outraged Dumont. Hart testified that she heard Dumont tell Little J that he was going to take his car as retribution. Hart said she heard Dumont say he would come after Thorne and beat him up. The phone was on speaker when her and Dumont were in her car and Dumont said “let’s beef – let’s do this right now.” 

In cross-examination, Hart said on the day that Dumont died he was still angry with Thorne and Little J.

Serena Lastowski testified that Dumont asked her if it was true that Thorne slept with Hart. During the preliminary hearing Lastowski said Dumont told her he was going to kill Thorne but during the trial she denied she said that and said Dumont said “Thorne was going to ‘get it.’”

Justice Renke said Lastowski and Hart's accounts were mutually corroborative and further corroboration was drawn from Edmonton Remand Centre recordings.

“Trouble had been brewing since 2018,” said Justice Renke.

The Crown said Hermkens was motivated to kill Dumont by the $100,000 payment Thorne promised because Hermkens wanted to buy his new girlfriend a $95,000 Porsche SUV.

"There was nothing spontaneous or impulsive about what occurred," Justice Renke said. “Mr. Hermkens came close to Mr. Dumont, stood just outside the passenger door of the car a few feet away from Mr. Dumont in the driver’s seat, and opened fire. The weapon was aimed at Mr. Dumont. Ms. Hart, who was right beside Mr. Hermkens, received only a minor wound. Twelve shots were fired in a few seconds. One bullet killed Mr. Dumont.”

Hermken’s 25 year sentence started on May 6, 2019, the day he was remanded in custody.

Lloydminster borders the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

ljoy@glaciermedia.ca

Story updated with additional information

 

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