Sentencing decision expected in La Loche high school shooting



A provincial court judge is expected to decide today whether a young man who shot and killed four people at a school and a home in northern Saskatchewan should be sentenced as an adult or a youth.

Judge Janet McIvor has been considering all the testimony and evidence that was presented to her during a sentencing hearing for the shooter last year.

The hearing was held in Meadow Lake, Sask., but McIvor is to make her ruling in La Loche where the shootings occurred.

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The Youth Criminal Justice Act does not allow the young man to be named because he was just shy of his 18th birthday when he committed the crimes.

The prosecution argued during the hearing that the teen should be sentenced as an adult after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Crown prosecutor Pouria Tabrizi-Reardigan noted the teen researched school shootings and guns online. He also researched what it felt like to kill someone.

His defence lawyer, Aaron Fox, is seeking a youth sentence, because his client suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and has cognitive problems that have affected his maturity. Fox told the hearing the teen does not have a criminal record.

The teen said he didn’t know what he was thinking when he pulled the trigger.

The penalty if he is sentenced as a youth is six years in custody and four years of supervision. As an adult, he faces an automatic life sentence, but would get credit for time already spent in custody, meaning he could be eligible for parole after 10 years.

Some victims testified at the hearing that the teen should be sentenced as an adult because of the severity of his crimes.

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“He and he alone needs to own these crimes. Please do not allow (him) or his defence to blame others … for these evil deeds,” Phyllis Longobardi, one of the people shot at the school, said in her victim impact statement.

An agreed statement of facts detailed the shooter’s murderous path from the home in La Loche to the community’s high school on Jan. 22, 2016.

The teen first killed Dayne Fontaine, 17, and then his brother Drayden, who was 13. Dayne pleaded for his life before he was shot 11 times, including twice in the head. Drayden was shot twice.

The teen then drove to the high school, where surveillance footage captured his frightening walk through the halls, his shotgun raised, as students and staff ran in fear.

Teacher Adam Wood, 35, and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier, 21, were killed and seven others were hurt.

When police arrived, the shooter ran into a women’s washroom where he put his weapon down and gave himself up.

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McIvor has said for some time that she wanted to deliver the sentence in the community.

Mayor Robert St. Pierre said it could bring some closure, but also expressed concerns that it could dredge up a lot of bad memories.

A Saskatchewan judge is considering whether a teenager who killed four people in La Loche in January 2016, should be sentenced as a youth or an adult. Mayor Robert St. Pierre says the community needs to accept either decision. The Canadian Press