Accused killer’s tattoos could mean high rank in Terror Squad, expert testifies
Shaylin Sutherland-Kayseas’s tattoos show she is a high-ranking member of the Terror Squad or has engaged in significance violence for the gang, a constable with the Saskatoon police guns and gangs unit testified on Tuesday.
The officer explained the structure, organization and operations of the gang on day seven of the murder trial of Sutherland-Kayseas. The 20-year-old is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Dylan Phillips, 26, and committing murder for the benefit of the Terror Squad.
Justice Shawn Smith deemed the constable an expert who can give opinion evidence on the Terror Squad.
“He has one job,” Smith said.
The officer receives information about the Terror Squad by speaking with identified gang members and associates, from social media, reading past and current cases and investigations, and from other law enforcement. He also works with informants within the gang and said he’s worked with up to three at once, and currently has one active informant.
There are about 200 active members of the Terror Squad in and near Saskatoon, some of who are incarcerated, he said.
The witness explained how the gang operates as a hierarchy with two known main leaders. Below them is one leader that looks after criminal elements and another that deals with “consequences” and violence on the streets. Below the leaders are higher-ups who give direction to soldiers or up-and-comers to go on missions.
Missions are violence or acts that bring a profit of money, drugs, weapons or property to the gang, which allow members to move up the ranks, he said.
He said leaders, higher-up members and sometimes soldiers attend council meetings. Council is a group of members who are appointed to different types of areas of the city to conduct different type of business, which includes drugs, weapons, violence and property.
Terror Squad members wear black bandanas with white paisley, paint graffiti, show gang signs with their hands, and use a vocal sound to identify they are part of the gang.
“It’s a form of intimidation, also being loyal to their gang,” he explained when asked why members would show they are in the gang.
The officer identified photos of Sutherland-Kayseas’s tattoo that showed “TS,” with the “S” being a dollar sign. He also said some members have “2019” tattoos, which signify the 20th and 19th letters in the alphabet - “T” and “S.”
Under cross-examination, the officer said not everyone who wears a black bandana is in a gang and that higher up members are typically over 18, but that some members move up quicker if their family members are in the gang. Sutherland-Kayseas was 18 when she was charged with the murder and said in a police interview her uncle is a member of the Terror Squad.
She admitted to shooting and killing Phillips during a robbery in that same interview, which was played previously in the trial. She didn’t plan on killing him and didn’t mean to, she said in the interview.
Sutherland-Kayseas said she didn’t know Phillips but knew he dealt marijuana and needed money. She told Det. Sgt. Corey Lenius the shooting happened in a scuffle when she went to Phillips’s home on the 1400 block of Avenue G North. There has been no evidence to show Phillips was in a gang.
First-degree murder means a killing is planned and deliberate but a murder can also be first-degree if it’s for the benefit of, in association with, or under the direction of a criminal organization, according to the Criminal Code of Canada.