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Judge to deliver decision in La Loche shooter's adult sentencing hearing in his home community in Feb.
Published Friday, October 20, 2017 5:55AM CST
Last Updated Friday, October 20, 2017 8:48PM CST
The judge presiding over the adult sentence hearing for the teen who carried out a deadly shooting in La Loche will hand down her decision just after the two-year anniversary of the incident in the community where it happened.
Judge Janet McIvor is scheduled to deliver her decision whether the teen — who killed four and injured seven others — should be sentenced as an adult on February 23rd in La Loche. The teen pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder in the January 2016 shooting.
Lawyers submitted closing arguments in the case Friday in Meadow Lake Provincial Court. Crown prosecutor Pouria Tabrizi-Reardigan told court the seriousness of the offence and the circumstances surrounding it justifies an adult sentence. He argued the teen planned the shooting because he mentioned a school shooting to a friend five months prior, he researched guns, ammunition and what it would feel like to kill someone.
Tabrizi-Reardigan said for the public's safety the teen should receive an adult sentence. "It would be wreckless to assume that (rehabilitation) could be accomplished within the time limit of a youth sentence," he told court Friday afternoon. He also pointed to evidence that showed the teen understood the consequences of his actions — he eventually gave himself up to RCMP after the shooting because he knew he was outnumbered and was aware of the power of the officers' guns.
Tabrizi-Reardigan argued, even with the teen's mental health disorders, cognitive and intellect issues, he should still receive an adult sentence because those issues don't have a direct link to the crimes. He told court the teen has never expressed genuine remorse about his plan to carry out the school shooting.
The teen's lawyer Aaron Fox says the seriousness of the offence does not mean the teen should receive an adult sentence. He painted the picture of a "lost soul" and "black sheep of the family," arguing that the teen lacks the intellect and cognitive function to have the maturity level of an adult. He said while the teen reported he wasn't bullied at school, others said he was teased, looked sad and depressed and was a quiet person. He hated school, was repeating Grade 10 for the third time and had feelings of hopelessness.
"His expectation was that he was going to die (after the shooting). That’s what was going on in his world," Fox told court.
He addeed that the teen had no previous brushes with the law and has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. He argued the shooter's low cognitive function, frustration with school and other factors of his life eventually led to the school shooting, but that there still is no clear motive to why he carried out the attack.
"It’s unfortunate that that hasn’t happened," Fox said. He reiterated the shooter has pleaded guilty and accepts full responsibility for the crimes. The teen shot two brothers — 17-year-old Dayne and 13-year-old Drayden Fontaine —in a home in La Loche before going to the La Loche Community School and opening fire. He killed teacher Adam Wood, 35, and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier, 21, and injured seven others. He ran into a school washroom where he gave himself up after about 10 minutes of pacing around the school with a gun.
If sentenced as a youth the teen could receive a maximum sentence of ten years —six of which would be spent in custody, while the other four under supervision. If he's sentenced as an adult, he'd receive a term of life in prison with no parole eligibility for ten years.
He can't be identified because he was just shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the crimes. .
Judge Janet McIvor is expected to hand down her decision on February 23rd in La Loche, two years, one month and one day after the shootings.
The mayor of La Loche says the timing is concerning.
"It's going to dredge up a lot of memories," Robert St. Pierre said outside court. He said there will be mixed feelings in the community regardless the decision, but that he's hoping for an adult sentence based on the magnitude of the devastation that's been brough to the community. "I think it's an opportunity for the community to come to terms with their reality and the situation and to maybe have some closure," he said.
--- CTV was in court, covering the closing arguments. Read our live coverage below: