Didn't know boy killed until three days later, Gruener says on stand
The Globe and Mail/1978-03-07
By Marina Strauss and Vianney Carriere
Werner Gruener testified yesterday that he was in the apartment when Emanuel Jaques was sexually assaulted and killed but knew nothing about it until three days later after he and two co-defendants were arrested on a westbound train.
The tall, bearded 29-year-old, who has been described by his lawyer as a man in his own little world, quietly told the Supreme Court jury that nothing was mentioned to me at all . . . They didn't say nothing.
The second defendant to take the stand, Mr. Gruener answered questions in a barely audible voice, usually mumbling and saying no more than yes or no. He leaned forward on the witness box, propping his head on his hands, eyes often wandering to the floor.
When asked by his lawyer, Earl Levy, what he thought when he found out that Emanuel, a 12-year-old shoeshine boy, was handcuffed and tied up in the bedroom the night of the assault, the defendant said, I thought it was unusual. He elaborated later that Robert Kribs, already convicted of the first-degree murder charge, liked taking pictures of boys tied up . . I was still watching TV.
He testified that watching TV was his major activity last July 28, when he let Emanuel and one of the accused men into the apartment through the back door, supposedly to take photographs. Most of the rest of the time that night and the early hours of July 29, when the boy was killed, Mr. Gruener said, he was sleeping, packing to go to Vancouver or at a nearby restaurant.
Mr. Gruener acknowledged he was in on a discussion with the three other accused men at about 3 a.m. July 29 on what to do with the boy. He testified he told the others to take Emanuel back to his parents, and later that morning that is what Mr. Kribs had said he had done with the boy.
Before Mr. Levy called his client to the stand, he told the 11 jurors that they could find Mr. Gruener guilty of nothing except choice of friends.
I don't suspect you'll hear a free-flowing question-and-answer period, Mr. Levy warned the jury. Mr. Gruener may seem naive but he is not a moron.
Following Mr. Gruener's evidence, Mr. Levy called a psychologist and then a psychiatrist and then rested his case. That concludes the evidence on behalf of the three defendants and today the Crown will call reply evidence.
Both men testified that Mr. Gruener is of below average intelligence and that he withdraws from situations he finds stressful or threatening.
In his evidence, Mr. Gruener, his long sandy hair pushed back from a solemn-looking face, said earnestly that I've studied the Bible from one end to another and that he was not a homosexual.
He also testified he did not know that Mr. Kribs was a homosexual although the two men shared a bedroom in the Yonge Street apartment for about two months before Emanuel was killed.
Later during cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Peter Rickaby, Mr. Gruener testified that his roommate had once mentioned to him that he was interested in young boys.
Although previous evidence has shown that Mr. Gruener liked little girls, the defendant told the court yesterday, I liked talking to little girls but there was nothing sexual about it. I enjoy their company . . We get along good. The slim man, dressed in navy corduroy pants and matching jacket, told the court that he came from very religious parents living in British Columbia and that he hadn't informed them of the first-degree murder charge against him.
His mother had had a mental breakdown and had attempted suicide when he was 13 or 14 and he didn't want to disturb her, Mr. Gruener testified. But two days ago he received a letter from her saying she had heard the news on the radio. Nicknamed Gypsy because of his taste for travelling, especially on his 10-speed bicycle, he dropped out of school at Grade 10 at the age of 18 and left home at 21, although he got along real good with his parents.
Mr. Gruener at one point glanced nervously at the jury as his lawyer read out to the court seven criminal charges the defendant has been convicted of over the past 10 years at various points across the country as well as a charge for jaywalking. (Mr. Gruener chuckled when his lawyer quipped: It must have been a very wide street.
The past crimes range from theft to obstructing a police officer to living off the avails of prostitution. Was that male prostitution? Mr. Levy asked. No, was the prompt reply.
With penalties of from $25 to six months in jail, Mr. Levy made a point of telling the jury each time he read out a conviction that Mr. Gruener had pleaded guilty to the charge. The defendant and the other accused men still on trial are pleading not guilty to the first-degree murder charge. Mr. Kribs had changed his plea to guilty before he was convicted.
Mr. Gruener told the court about his interest in the Bible and his association over the past four years with the Children of God sect, which he said followed the King James Version of the Bible.
In cross-examination later, Mr. Rickaby asked the defendant if there was not a contradiction between his religious beliefs and his work at body-rub parlors on Yonge Street over the past four years, including the parlor below the 245 Yonge St. apartment where Emanuel was killed.
Like I said, I was working to make some money, Mr. Gruener replied. He said he wasn't interested in what went on inside the private rooms.
Mr. Gruener, come on; you know these customers are getting more than five cents of mineral oils spread over them, the Crown prosecutor, his voice rising, prodded the witness.
I have no idea, Mr. Gruener said in his monotone.
Ever sample the wares? Mr. Rickaby asked. This time Mr. Gruener laughed when he answered no.
On cross-examination, Mr. Gruener agreed to the prosecutor's suggestion that the myriad of exhibits of photographs of boys in various nude and sexual poses - many of them taken by Mr. Kribs - were offensive and shocking.
Mr. Gruener denied any involvement in sexual assaults on boys as young as 7 who have testified in past weeks.
He was in the apartment when two brothers were up, each in a separate room with Mr. Kribs and another defendant, Josef Woods, Mr. Gruener testified. But he was watching TV.