It was a deadly ambush at a crowded Winnipeg house party. Now two young men have been found guilty of first-degree murder for what a judge says was a planned and premeditated double killing.
The pair, 16 and 17 at the time of the December 2009 attack in Elmwood, had sought convictions on lesser charges such as second-degree murder or manslaughter. But Queen's Bench Justice Perry Schulman ruled Friday the Crown had proven the attacks were premeditated.
The Crown plans to seek an adult sentence for the pair, which would be life in prison with no chance of parole for at least seven years. As youths, the maximum penalty they could be given is six years in custody and four years of community supervision.
Sentencing is scheduled for early 2013, and both remain in custody without bail.
Tyler Hawula and Matthew Reynolds, both 18, were fatally injured in the attack. A third victim, Kyle St. Germaine, suffered serious injuries.
Schulman agreed with Crown attorney Lisa Carson's contention there was plenty of evidence the pair planned the murders.
"There was no hesitation, no confrontation, no pausing. (One of the accused) runs into the house as fast as he can, executes the plan and runs out of the house," Carson said in her closing argument earlier this fall. "There was ample opportunity in terms of discussion of a plan. We know what was in mind was retaliation. We know they were going back to get even. They were going back to exact revenge, taking a loaded shotgun into a home filled with unarmed people."
Defence lawyers based much of their argument on a Crown witness who told court the shootings were "spontaneous." Cody Delorme admits being with the two accused at the time of the killings. He pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
"It went to hell in a second," Delorme told court. He went with the two and another teen to the home, believing they were maybe going to beat up someone or steal their alcohol and drugs to "get even" for an earlier slight. He said there was never a discussion about shooting the place up, even though one of the convicted men grabbed a gun before they got into a cab to go to the party.
"It was like, OK, we're going to go there. But what are we going to do when we get there?" Delorme testified. "It wasn't really much of any plan or thought process."
The incident took place after Hawula and a small group of friends planned a party at his Martin Avenue West home and posted the event on Facebook. The invitation spread through the website and strangers showed up, including the killers. Hawula, Reynolds and another man kicked the 17-year-old out because he was getting into arguments and frightening people by flashing weapons, court was told.
The youth left and a plot was hatched to return to the home and seek revenge, the Crown said.