Blackjack Card Counter On Trial For Murder

By Marcus Harmon
June 08, 2023

You can be friends with someone for many years, or even decades, thinking that you actually know them, only to realize that that person who claimed to be your friend is anything but that. And that’s exactly what happened to Vida Smith.

Namely, she has been friends with Chris Lee for approximately thirty years, and the due could be defined as casino buddies since they’ve been frequently visiting them. However, what I mustn’t forget to mention is the fact that they’ve also been banned from several casinos because Chris has been accused of counting cards.

Now, the question is, what led to this horrific event? Some believe that it was done on purpose, while there are those who think that it was an accident. If you would like to know the real truth behind this murder, then stay tuned!

4 aces

What Really Happened?

As previously stated, Chris Lee and Vida Smith were actually long-term friends. Furthermore, according to, this duo has been working in a card-counting operation for more than three decades and in the meantime earned a substantial amount of money. Although they were banned for multiple casinos in that period of time, it’s safe to say that they were pretty successful.

Even though Lee hasn’t denied that he actually killed Smith, he claimed that it was just an accident. So what actually happened that day? Namely, according to him, he wanted to meet Smith in a Starbucks parking lot because he needed a fake passport.

She agreed to meet him, however, in return he had to give her $10,000. He stated that she allegedly didn’t have the passport but the birth certificate instead, but has still taken the cash and then tried to get out of the vehicle.

What happened next is that Lee grabbed her and pulled her back in the car and then placed his arms around her neck and held her tight for approximately 30 seconds until she passed away.

Lee’s Next Steps

Once he strangled her, he placed her body in the back of his own automobile and went straight to Edmonton. After a couple of days, he drove to the mountains with the goal to get rid of her body, in the nearest vicinity of a rest stop that’s close to Canmore or Banff.

According to him, he isn’t one hundred percent sure exactly where he left the body. As soon as he realized that the police were looking for him, he started cleaning the trunk of his vehicle in order to completely get rid of the evidence, including Smith’s car keys.

Was In Intentional, Or?

Lee suggested that this wasn’t the first time that Smith tried to trick him and steal his money. In fact, she has done this two more times, and this one (the day she was murdered) was actually the final straw.

Still, according to him, he had never planned on killing her. But is it really the truth? If you ask Shane Parker, the Crown prosecutor, all of this was done deliberately. Namely, according to the prosecutor, Lee’s demeanor doesn’t prove that we are dealing with someone who is remorseful and who would never do something like this intentionally.

On the contrary. Parker suggests that Lee’s demeanor was actually pretty cold, plus additional evidence, in this case, involves a pair of handcuffs that has Smith’s DNA all over them. Apart from that, there’s also a report by a surveillance officer who stated that Lee has managed to get rid of a silencer one week after he killed Smith.

What’s shocking is the fact that he kept her body close for several days, transferring it from his automobile to another one, which he later employed to drive her body to a distant location. After a prosecutor asked Lee about it, his answer was actually very vague which is one of the reasons why the body was never found.

In addition, Parker claims that Lee actually had a .45-caliber gun in his possession, plus, let’s not forget the aforementioned fact that he tried to dispose of a silencer. So when we take all these facts into consideration, along with the one that he doesn’t want to give the exact information for the body, it can be concluded that all of this was most likely planned upfront.

Parker even believes that Smith hadn’t died because she was strangled to death but that it’s highly likely that she was actually killed with the handgun. But why would Lee then claim that a 30-second chokehold caused her death?

According to Parker, the whole point of his statement was to show to the jury that he hasn’t done anything intentionally, and since the police weren’t able to find the body, there’s no proof that’s one hundred percent reliable that’s going to show us how Smith really died.

And that’s exactly what Lee wanted the entire time. However, after a while, after the inspection of his second vehicle, which was an old SUV, the police uncovered several loaded guns, as well as, knives, the abovementioned handcuffs which contain Smith’s DNA, and $40,000 in cash.

Due to all this evidence, the jury was finally able to put the two and two together, which means that Chris Lee was sentenced to ten years in prison. Now, during cross-examination, prosecutor, Shane Parker noticed that Lee didn’t feel any remorse while he was describing the killing of his friend.

Parker told him “You were very stoic as you were describing to Mr. Wilson how you killed your friend of thirty years.”

But according to Lee, that’s not because he doesn’t have any regrets, but it’s because he generally isn’t a person who likes to show his emotions and that’s all by virtue of his life as a seasoned and professional gambler.

The Statements Of Smith’s Children

Smith’s children (Sina Oroomchi and Neda Power) decided to talk about their mother as well, claiming that “The world without her is darker and quieter”, and that she was their “best friend”.


Even though this murder happened almost three years ago, only relatively recently the jury was able to give closure to this unfortunate event and finally give Vida Smith (and her family) the peace she deserves.



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Marcus Harmon poker author
Written By.

Marcus Harmon

Marcus Harmon is a poker writer and editor of Sunshine Poker Rooms, a poker news and information source. With a decade of experience in the online gaming industry, Marcus has been lucky enough to have met and indeed been beaten by some of the great players. His other passions are soccer and travel.

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