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Scorned Richmond woman admits grisly murder on police tape

A jury was shown video Wednesday of a Richmond, B.C., senior calmly describing how she used box cutters to slit the throat of a friend she believed was having an affair with her husband.

A jury was shown video Wednesday of a Richmond, B.C., senior calmly describing how she used box cutters to slit the throat of a friend she believed was having an affair with her husband.

The video was taken at the end of a yearlong police sting aimed at wringing a confession out of Jean Ann James, 72, who has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Gladys Wakabayashi, 41.

Wakabayashi, the daughter of a Taiwanese billionaire, was murdered in her home in Vancouver's posh Shaughnessy neighbourhood in June 1992 but no charges were initially laid in the case.

Nearly 16 years later, police reopened the file and launched a so-called Mr. Big undercover operation targeting James, who was initially a suspect in the murder.

At the end of the yearlong operation, at a hotel room in Quebec in November 2008, James can be heard being wooed by an undercover RCMP officer posing as a crime boss.

The scenario has James being offered a chance to participate in an unspecified crime with a reward of $700,000 to be split among the participants.

But first James, who had earlier assured the undercover cops that she had no conscience and was willing to do anything, is told by the crime boss that she must come clean about the Wakabayashi murder.

In matter-of-fact tones, James explains that she did a lot of digging and found out that Wakabayashi was "screwing around" with her husband Derek, an air traffic controller who had been unfaithful to her numerous times.

"That was just one time when I wasn't going to put up with this nonsense anymore. I did something about it," said James.

"You kill her or you got somebody else to do it?" asks the cop, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban.

"This is strictly between you and I?" says James.

"I'm never going to talk about it," says the cop.

"I have never told anybody," says James.

"Well, that's smart," says the cop.

"I just went around to her and confronted her about it and she lied to me. . . . She just started laughing in my face and I just got furious and I did it."

"What did you do to her?" asks the cop.

"I slit her throat," said James.

The cop presses James to tell him whether she in fact committed the grisly crime on her own.

"There's no one else," replied James. "I've never told anyone else. I've always denied it."

Elaborating on the crime, James says she initially tried to get some information about the infidelity from Wakabayashi by cutting her on the legs with a box cutter, before slitting her throat.

"I said (to her) that if you tell the truth, I'll call the ambulance, which of course I had no intention of doing."

Asked by the cop what she did with the murder weapon, James says she took it to the other side of town and threw it in a metal Dumpster.

"And all the clothes that I had, there was an incinerator at the school and I threw them in there."

James, who admitted she was "very sneaky," described how she had parked her car five blocks away from the crime scene and walked to the Selkirk Street home.

She said she used gloves and "kept nothing" from the crime scene when she fled the home.

James reiterated to the undercover cop that she had never told her husband about the crime.

"He was upset, he was just beside himself, but I never said anything."

Though police identified her as a suspect, she said she'd been to the Wakabayashi home several days prior to the murder to visit her friend and that "my fingerprints were all over the house."

"I didn't like the police coming around, but I wasn't shook up about it," she said.

During his cross-examination of the undercover cop, James' lawyer Aseem Dosanjh pointed to several inconsistencies in the evidence.

Spectators packed into the small Vancouver courtroom to hear the confession played for the B.C. Supreme Court jury.

The trial continues.