Manitoba father fought killer son for gun over bodies of dead family, court hears
BY IAN HITCHEN, BRANDON SUN JUNE 4, 2010
BRANDON, Man. — He walked into his kitchen to find the bodies of his wife and five-year-old daughter lying next to each other beneath blankets on the floor — both of them shot dead.
Then he heard a clicking sound.
The father looked up and saw his 14-year-old son emerge from an adjoining room with a rifle in his gloved hands.
A Manitoba man recounted discovering the horror that had unfolded at his home as he testified this week during sentencing for his adopted son, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder for the Aug. 24, 2007, shootings.
The man told the court he sensed something was wrong when he returned to the house near St. Lazare, Man., at the end of the work day and found the blinds drawn.
"It was weird because the kids weren’t outside," he told Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench.
The father can’t be named because it would identify the young offender.
Entering the home, he found the bodies, then his still-armed son.
The father said he and the boy struggled over the gun and the father managed to unload the firearm by pulling out the magazine before fleeing the home for help.
A pathologist later determined the mother had sustained three gunshot wounds to her head.
The girl, who was also adopted, suffered two gunshot wounds to the back of her head and one to her right thigh. There was also a wound to her face, and two wounds on her right upper arm.
Crown attorney Jim Ross said the youth claims his adoptive mother abused him.
The teenager, now 17, claimed his 43-year-old mother once held a knife to his throat, would lock him in the basement and deny him food.
The father, however, said he saw no evidence of that abuse.
Their son was "difficult," he said, and his wife would yell and slap her son when she was angry. She made the boy stand against the wall as punishment.
The father admitted the boy’s relationship with his mother was strained in 2007. He testified that on one occasion, his wife tried to scare their son by saying the family should send him back to where he came from.
He testified that she loved her son and the family shared good times, too.
The mother was excited when they adopted the boy at the age of three in April 1996, he told court.
She made him clothes and Halloween costumes and was delighted when her son once built her a flower bed.
The boy and his sister were "very close," the father added during cross-examination by defence lawyer Bob Harrison.
The prosecutor told Justice Robert Cummings he’s applying to have the boy sentenced as an adult.
If sentenced as a youth, he faces a maximum seven-year sentence — up to four years in prison and three years of community supervision.
There would be little or no supervision once the seven years expired.
If sentenced as an adult, he faces a life sentence with parole eligibility of five to seven years.
It would be up to the parole board to decide when he would be released and he’d be under the board’s supervision for life.
He has already spent two years and 10 months in pre-sentence custody.
The sentencing continues next week.
St. Lazare is 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.