The Crown’s case against the man accused of killing Surrey teen Serena Vermeersch last year is being laid out in court this week.
A preliminary hearing into charges against Raymond Caissie opened Wednesday morning in Surrey Provincial Court. The actual trial will come later, if a judge determines there is sufficient evidence to proceed.
Evidence from preliminary inquiries is subject to a publication ban and cannot be published.
Caissie is charged with second-degree murder in Vermeersch’s death on Sept. 15 of last year. The 17-year-old’s body was discovered the next evening in an area next to a cedar mill near 146 Street and 66 Avenue. Caissie, who is now 44, was arrested four days later in Vancouver.
Caissie sat in the prisoner’s box during Wednesday’s hearing, wearing red prison-issue clothing, his head shaved, with tattoos visible on his arms and neck and one of a teardrop under his right eye. He often leaned his head against the wall behind him and at some points, appeared to close his eyes.
Caissie’s arrest last year sparked particular outrage as he had been released from prison in 2013 after serving a 22-year sentence for a violent sexual assault and robbery in Abbotsford in 1991. At the time of his release, the B.C. Corrections Branch issued a warning to the public that he planned to live in Surrey and was considered at high risk to re-offend.
Prior to the 1991 conviction, which involved the rape of a 21-year-old student at knifepoint, Caissie had convictions of sexual assault, committing in indecent act and assault as a youth. Parole Board of Canada documents indicate that since the age of 15, he has spent only a couple of years out of jail and often voluntarily moved from medium-security institutions to maximum as he was more comfortable there. During parole reviews, Caissie agreed he wasn’t equipped to Iive outside prison and had no community support or employment skills.
Between 2006 and 2013, the parole board repeatedly denied releasing him before his sentence was finished, at which time his release was mandatory
The preliminary hearing on Caissie’s Surrey murder charge is scheduled to continue through Friday.