MANITOBA justice officials are seeking an adult sentence against a 14-year-old boy who allegedly executed a gang rival in cold blood, a penalty that would make judicial history.
The Free Press has learned lawyers for the teen were recently put on notice of the application as required under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Justice sources said they don't believe a Manitoba killer as young as 14 has ever been sentenced as an adult.
The first step for the Crown will be securing a conviction. That process began Monday with the start of a preliminary hearing that will determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the hearing from being published.
The accused, who can't now be named under the YCJA, is charged with first-degree murder for the September 2011 shooting death of 20-year-old Michael Vincett. Police and justice officials believe the shooting was retaliation for another gangland slaying involving youths.
If convicted and sentenced as a youth, the teen would only be eligible for a maximum sentence of six years in custody. As an adult, he would receive a life sentence with parole eligibility after seven years.
Sentencing the 14-year-old as an adult would represent one of the first times a killer this young has received such a severe penalty in Canada. But justice officials plan to seek such a drastic sentence in this case because of the shocking history of the accused, which includes a previous shooting at a postal carrier in 2010.
He was just 13 years old when he confronted a 51-year-old Canada Post employee who was delivering mail. The boy initially demanded money and pepper spray from the victim, then pulled out a sawed-off shotgun, loaded it and fired. The letter carrier narrowly avoided being hit and fled the scene without injury.