A Professional Blackjack Card Counter on Trial for Murder

Chris Lee, a professional blackjack card counter, is on trial for second-degree murder in Canada. He is accused of killing his gambling partner and friend, Vida Smith. Smith was 69 at the time of her death. Remarkably, the two had worked together in a card-counting operation for over 30 years. It was where they earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings.

The Admission of Killing

Lee admitted to the court that he killed Smith but claimed it was an accident. He testified that on July 21, 2020, he met Smith in a Starbucks parking lot in Calgary. It was where she agreed to provide him with a fake passport in return for $10,000.

According to Lee, he had previously hoped that the COVID-19 mask mandates would enable him to gain entry into casinos. It was from which he had been barred. He planned to use a counterfeit ID for this purpose. However, upon meeting with Smith and providing her with cash, she gave him a falsified birth certificate. Lee stated that it was of no use to him as he required a photo ID. Despite this, Smith attempted to keep the money. He alleged that this was the third instance in which Smith had attempted to defraud him financially.

Lee’s Story Version

According to Lee, he panicked and moved the body to another vehicle. Notably, it was before disposing of it in the mountains. He also stated that he could not recall the specific location. However, the prosecution argued that this behaviour seemed unusual. In particular, this person had always been known for carefully assessing their actions’ potential risks and consequences.

The Cross – Examination

During cross-examination, the prosecution questioned Lee on his seemingly detached demeanour. Mainly, it was when he was describing the killing of his longtime partner. Lee explained that his years as a professional gambler had led him to become more stoic. He added that he typically tries to keep his emotions in check. Additionally, he stated that he would always try not to display emotion and with warm reactions.

The Prosecution

Meanwhile, the prosecution argued that Smith did not pass away in the parking lot. Lee instead killed her with a .45 calibre pistol that he had on him at the time. Thus, it would qualify as first-degree murder: shooting someone suggests intent. The prosecution stated that Lee knew where to locate the body. However, he is unwilling to reveal it to authorities. Lee knew it would support their theory.

The Verdict Deliberation

The jury is currently deciding the outcome of Lee’s trial. Moreover, the jury began their deliberation on Thursday afternoon. The verdict will determine whether Lee’s years of experience as a professional gambler and poker face will convince the jury of his innocence. Or if the prosecution’s arguments will lead to a guilty verdict.

The case raises questions about the role of emotion in criminal trials. Moreover, about the impact of a lifetime of stoicism in high-stakes gambling situations. Particularly on a person’s ability to express feelings. It also highlights the dangerous and illicit nature of card-counting operations. Mainly, this can lead to banned individuals resorting to desperate and deadly measures to continue their activities.