Teen to serve 10 years for family killings

Date: 2010-07-29
Source: fftimes.com

THE CANADIAN PRESS

BRANDON, Man.—A teenager who shot and killed his adoptive mother and five-year-old stepsister in rural Manitoba has received the maximum youth sentence for his crimes.
The boy, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was 14 when he turned a .22-calibre rifle on two of his family members on Aug. 24, 2007.

Justice Robert Cummings of Court of Queen’s Bench sentenced him to four years in custody and three more years in a supervised community setting, with no credit for three years already spent in custody.

The youth pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder earlier this year.

“The two murders, especially that of the innocent child, are very serious,” Cummings wrote in his ruling yesterday.

“For this reason alone, the moral blameworthiness attaching to [the boy’s] conduct is high.”

Court was told the boy’s adoptive father returned home to find the woman and young girl lying dead on the floor, covered with a blanket.

The boy emerged from a back room and struggled with the father, who managed to remove the bullets from the rifle and call police.

The Crown had sought an adult sentence, which could have meant life imprisonment.

But the judge noted the boy had suffered abuse at the hands of several people, including his adoptive mother, who repeatedly had hit him with a belt, slippers, and other items, and had threatened to kill him.

“[The boy] was very young at the time and he was striking back at a situation which had been building in him since his very early years,” the judge wrote.

“He is not a hardened criminal and there are excellent prospects for rehabilitation.”

The case is expected to raise more questions about Manitoba’s troubled child welfare system. The boy had been taken from his birth parents, who were involved in criminal activity, as a pre-schooler.

He was adopted soon afterward, spending the ensuing years in a home the judge described as “an angry and chronically dangerous environment.”

Manitoba’s child welfare system recently came under a courtroom spotlight in the death of Gage Guimond, a Winnipeg toddler who died after falling down stairs.

His great-aunt, Shirley Guimond, admitted to regularly hitting the boy.

Her lawyer said she never should have been granted custody because she had been abused for much of her life and had a criminal record.

Relatives of the victims were dismayed outside court yesterday.

“You can ask the justice system how two lives can be worth seven years,” the adult victim’s sister told CTV News.

“Now we’re going to fear for our lives when all we did was good for that boy, and so did my sister. She gave him a life and he took hers.”

She said the family feels the adoption agencies let them down.

“There should have been follow-up,” she stressed. “It should have been mandatory visits.”

She said she struggles with her feelings toward the boy.

“The true forgiveness is to welcome him back into my home, which I will never do,” she vowed.

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