MANDEL: The trial of a woman accused of underground killing of a Toronto lawyer opens

For days, prosecutors say, Anh Chiem lay in wait for the Toronto trial attorney whom she blamed for all of her legal and financial woes.

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“This case involves money … and murder,” QC Corrie Langdon told the jury.

Chiem, 64, is on trial for hit and run by Scott Rosen in an underground car park as he left work on December 18, 2020. A white U-Haul pickup truck was captured on surveillance video, which quickly sped towards the 52-year-old father of two. After Rosen is hit and falls to the ground, the white pickup can be seen backing up and hitting him again before taking off.

Rosen died at the scene from catastrophic blunt force trauma.

“The damaged white U-Haul pickup was found about 90 minutes later with Scott Rosen’s DNA on the front bumper,” Langdon said. “It was rented from Anh Chiem.”

The Crown told the 13-member jury they will hear Chiem hired the same truck from a U-Haul hire agency in Dundas St.W. on December 15, 16 and 17, with witnesses following them for hours in the Vehicle sitting see street from underground car park.

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The petite woman with gray-dyed brown hair has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. She listened to the proceedings through a Vietnamese translator, while across the courtroom, the victim’s partner and one of his sons sat in the front row.

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The court heard that Chiem and her mother, Chau, had been embroiled in a years-long legal battle with Chiem’s ​​ex-son-in-law, Peter Voong, over a lot set aside for development — 28 Elder Ave. in Etobicoke. Rosen represented Voong, who claimed she failed to honor her verbal agreement to sell the home he built on the land and split the proceeds.

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In 2019, a judge denied a motion by the Chiems to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that a certificate of pending litigation should remain on the property. They were ordered to pay Voong $37,000 in court costs and were denied an appeal in June 2019 with an additional $3,500 in costs.

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Chiem owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in other debts, the jury was told, and Rosen also helped represent a client who tried to stop her from filing for bankruptcy.

Chiem filed two unsuccessful complaints with the Law Society of Ontario against Rosen, Langdon said. The first, on October 22, 2019, claimed the attorney had “slandered” her and interfered with her personal bankruptcy. She wanted to take away sanctions, maybe even his license to practice.

After that investigation was dropped without disciplinary action, she filed another complaint on October 31, 2020, this time accusing Rosen of “attorney fraud and attorney extortion.”

On December 1, 2020, the LSO investigator informed Chiem that he had also closed this investigation. She responded, the jury heard, by telling him she was “totally disgusted” and “no wonder nobody trusts the judiciary.”

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Two weeks later, Langdon said, Chiem went to a U-Haul rental agency operated by Dignity Auto Repair and asked for a truck that would fit in an underground garage.

Just before 5 p.m. on December 15, 2020, Toronto Police Const. Pilar Johnson was responding to a deputy principal’s call about a suspicious white U-Haul pickup truck parked outside Eglinton Junior Public School on Eglinton Ave. E. 223 was idling and its rear license plate was obscured. She told Q.N. Bev Richards that she pulled up to the side of the rental car and her partner told the driver to pull over.

The driver, Johnson said, was short, wearing a dark parka, hood and face mask, and appeared “excited” when asked about the white tape covering the Arizona plate. The name on her driver’s license? “Anh Chiem,” the officer replied.

In video shown to the jury, Chiem could be heard arguing when she was issued a ticket, insisting she had not hidden the license plate number and suggesting it may have been done by the person who had complained to the police.

“See Mrs. Chiem here today?” Richards asked.

“Yes, I do, right there,” Johnson said, pointing to the woman sitting between her two attorneys.

The process goes on.

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