SASKATOON --  A 20-year-old man and member of the Indian Posse street gang has been sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison following a guilty plea for manslaughter, robbery and assault with a weapon from three unrelated crimes.

Craig Don Gladue pleaded guilty to all three charges in September. On Nov. 3, Justice Sanj Anand accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence, calling for a federal sentence of nine years, seven months.

Gladue was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Andrew Merasty on Aug. 18, 2019. Court heard how Gladue and Merasty ran into each other in the parking lot of a McDonald’s on 22nd Street West and Avenue W. Merasty was a known member of the Terror Squad street gang, crown prosecutor Michael Pilon said in court. 

Video footage captured on a security camera shows Merasty pull out a knife from a sheath attached to the front of his bicycle. Gladue takes off on his bike, and Merasty does the same, but not in pursuit of Gladue.

Again on the security footage, Gladue is seen going behind an apartment building and quickly coming out, and then quickly pedalling his bicycle in the direction Merasty went.

Pilon added that two witnesses walking along 20th Street West reported seeing an altercation between two men who matched Merasty and Gladue’s descriptions. The witnesses said the two were involved in a verbal confrontation, and at one point Merasty, with knife in hand, walks towards Gladue. According to Pilon witnesses said Gladue dropped his bike, pulled out a firearm and fired one shot at Merasty before taking off.

At around 10 a.m. that day police were called to the 1800 block of 20th Street West. Officers found Merasty with a gunshot wound, lying on the side of the road. He was taken to hospital where he later died. 

Outside of court, Pilon said police officers believe this altercation started when the two noticed they were part of rival street gangs.

“It’s just the fact that they’re rival gangs that recognized ‘you’re wearing red, I’m wearing black, therefore I don’t like you,’ and just an immediate combative position and response to that visual of ‘you’re wearing a different colour than me, we have a problem now,’” Pilon said.

Two of the charges Gladue faced were stayed — unlawful possession of a .22 calibre firearm and discharging a firearm in a reckless manner. 

Gladue was also charged with robbery from an incident on Sept. 5, 2019. Court heard how Gladue was released on bail, before being arrested again in December when he was charged in the death of Merasty. 

While on remand at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, Gladue assaulted another inmate who also identified as a member of the Terror Squad. Gladue was charged with assault on Feb. 12 after allegedly assaulting an inmate with a broomstick and a home-made shiv.

Defence lawyer Brad Mitchell told the court Gladue has two young sons, a Grade 10 education and grew up surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence. 

“This is the culmination of a difficult upbringing,” Mitchell said.

“The judge hit it on the head, there is no support for this young man, he was involved with a group of people who he thought he had an affinity with but they’re not here now. He’s not alone in this situation it’s all too common,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said his client was one of five children, who grew up around gangs, drugs and violence.

Turning to the empty gallery, Mitchell told the court Gladue doesn’t have positive support in his life, adding he does have two young children, one which he hasn’t met yet.

In addressing Gladue, Justice Sanjeev Anand told Gladue that it appeared as though gang life hasn’t done well for him.

“There’s no members of your gang here and that speaks volumes,” Anand said.

Mitchell agreed adding this case is about two tragedies – one death and one sentence, two young men.

Pilon told the court he had been in contact with Merasty’s mother, father and brother, none who attended court and none who submitted victim impact statements.

Gladue was given 17 months credit for time on remand giving him a prison term of nine years, seven months.