Canada: Woman who hired hit man to kill ex-husband loses appeal

A Richmond Hill woman who a court found unwittingly hired an undercover police officer to kill her ex-husband has lost an appeal of her conviction and five-year sentence.

Marina Ray, 64, was convicted in 2017 by judge alone for trying to hire a hitman to murder Michael Ray, who was seeking spousal support and equalization of family property after they divorced.

According to the judgment, Victor Sokolovski testified the Russian refugee asked if he could help her find someone to kill her ex-husband because she didn’t want to share the equity in her house.

Sokolovski then contacted York Regional Police. He agreed to co-operate with an undercover officer and arranged for the three of them to meet on Dec. 7, 2013.

In two meetings captured on video by police, Ray offered to pay $2,000 up front and “expected Mr. Ray to be shot, then suggested he be drugged. She insisted he be left for dead,” wrote Justice Anne Mullins in her judgment.

At their second meeting, Mullins said, Ray told the undercover cop “that he was to tell Mr. Ray that his death was vengeance for all the women he used, abused and stole from.”

Ray told the trial judge that any reference to her friend wanting ex-husband killed was made as a joke. But when he arranged a hitman so quickly, she was afraid for her life and that of family members if she appeared to not want to go through with it, saying she had no choice but to play along. She said calling authorities was not an option because she was fearful and distrustful of authorities based on her past experience.

On appeal, Ray also raised the defence of duress and argued that her “morally involuntary conduct” should not be the subject of criminal punishment because it was the product of her vulnerable mental state, and her fear of those she was involved with and what they might do to her and her family. The Court of Appeal rejected the defence.

Mullins didn’t buy it and convicted her of counselling to murder.

In 2018, Ray unsuccessfully argued for a stay, insisting she’d been entrapped by police. She was sentenced to five years in prison less eight months for pre-trial custody.

Ontario’s highest court has now refused to overturn Ray’s conviction, the stay or the sentence.

They rejected Ray’s claims that the officer took advantage of her “vulnerable mental state” and that she was only going along out of fear. The appeal court also didn’t accept that she was the victim of police entrapment.

“When she met the undercover officer, it was the appellant, not the officer, who initiated the discussions about having Mr. Ray killed in response to being asked what she wanted.”