Boy who fatally shot friend handed maximum sentence
Published Thursday, April 21, 2016 1:45PM CST Last Updated Thursday, April 21, 2016 7:10PM CST
A 15-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting another teen with a stolen gun last summer was sentenced to three years in custody Thursday.
Court heard the two boys were fooling around with a gun inside a home on the 300 block of Avenue Q South on Sept. 7, 2015. The accused, who was 14 at the time and can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pointed the gun at the victim — 15-year-old Dustin Ahenakew.
Ahenakew told him not to point the gun. The offender said the safety was on, but then shot Ahenakew in the head.
The teen then ran away, crying, and hid the gun, court heard. The two were friends.
His legal aid lawyer, Catherine Bohachik, described the event as an accident. She said the boy grew up with little support from family.
“He really is a young person who had to fend for himself quite often,” Bohachik told media outside court. “Not because his family aren’t good people, but because of the issues each of them faced.”
Crown prosecutor Cory Bliss refused to call the event an accident, but acknowledged the tragedy of the situation.
“I won’t call it an accident, but an unfortunate series of bad choices that led to the death of a young man,” Bliss said.
“The accused was a member of a gang. It’s clear one of the reasons they had these firearms was… to either go on the offensive or the defensive as part of their gang.”
The teen was originally charged with 15 offences, but pleaded guilty to 11 charges prior to Thursday’s sentencing.
The three-year sentence is the maximum sentence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act for the charges he pleaded guilty to — which included criminal negligence causing death and several weapon offences.
He will spend about another year-and-a-half in custody because of time he’s already served, followed by just over nine months under supervision. He’s also banned from owning firearms for 10 years.
A manslaughter offence was one of the four stayed charges.
Ahenakew’s family read emotional victim impact statements in court Thursday.
“He was a great kid. He didn’t deserve what happened to him,” Chastity Barthel, his mother, said outside court. “He was full of promise and potential.”
“I can’t even begin to explain how it affected me. Just how do you live without your brother? I don’t know,” Ahenakew’s older sister, Samantha Barthel, said.
His death was Saskatoon’s sixth homicide of 2015.
Neither Bliss nor Bohachik knew Thursday where the accused teen would be spending his remaining time in custody.