Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Desecrating grave nets charge

Family angry video posted online

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The family of a recent Winnipeg homicide victim stumbled across a Facebook video last week that showed the young man's gravesite being desecrated and urinated on.

Justice officials say it's an alarming sign gang tensions in the city are no longer confined to the streets and have spilled over into cemeteries, in some cases.

Police have charged an 18-year-old man with the rare offence of causing indignity to a dead body in addition to mischief.

Derek Warcimaga appeared in bail court Monday where the Crown detailed the allegations against him.

The allegations have not been proven and he is presumed innocent.

"Well, certainly the circumstances are disturbing to say the least," said provincial court Judge Rob Finlayson.

'Well, certainly the circumstances are disturbing to say the least' -- provincial court Judge Rob Finlayson

Crown attorney Jeff Nichols said the mother and sister of 16-year-old Paris Bruce found the video posted on Warcimaga's Facebook page and notified police.

A man can be seen running towards Bruce's grave, kicking over flowers and other objects that had been left by loved ones, and then urinating on the site.

Someone else present at the Brookside Cemetery during the April 30 daytime incident operated the camera, court was told.

Bruce was severely beaten last September while walking down a sidewalk in the 300 block of Aberdeen Avenue just after 8 a.m.

He died several days later in hospital. Six young men, all with ties to the Indian Posse, have been charged with his slaying.

Bruce had links to a rival gang, and police believe his attack was linked to ongoing battles over the drug trade.

Warcimaga's lawyer told court Monday his client was upset because he went to the cemetery to visit his cousin, who was also the victim of a recent gang-related homicide, only to find the man's gravesite had been trashed. That prompted him to lash out at Bruce's grave, which is nearby.

"There's no positive light I can put on something like that," the lawyer told Finlayson.

"I think the less you say about that probably the better," the judge advised.

Warcimaga was released on bail Monday, despite objections from the Crown.

Finlayson agreed to allow him to reside with his grandfather, post a $1,000 surety and keep to a 6 p.m. curfew.

Warcimaga was charged in September 2012 after police discovered a stolen semi-automatic rifle stashed inside a garage. He was released on a promise to appear in court, only to be re-arrested last month after missing a scheduled court appearance.

He was released again on April 10.

As the Free Press reported earlier this month, Winnipeg gang members and associates are increasingly using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Bebo to boast about their criminal activities and intimidate rivals.

Police have stepped up their online presence in an attempt to monitor the hostilities.

There have been several local arrests in recent years as a result of Internet postings, but this is believed to be the first case of its kind involving a desecration of a gravesite.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2013 A3


Updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 11:07 AM CDT: Removes unrelated sidebar.

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