Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Killer at large despite violations

'Beeper' slaying con again flouts parole

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One of the Winnipeg street gang members involved in the 1995 drive-by shooting death of 13-year-old Joseph "Beeper" Spence was recently caught violating his parole yet again -- but is still being allowed to remain in the community.

However, Fabian Torres, 30, has lost his bid this week to loosen the restrictions placed on him following his early release from prison.

Torres was seeking the freedom to live in his own apartment. He cites a lack of parking at his halfway house and a requirement to do four hours of weekly kitchen work as his major complaints. He claims the onerous conditions interfere with his time at the gym, at work and with his children.

The National Parole Board rejected his bid this week -- and told Torres he is lucky that he's even in the community at all. They note a series of parole breaches that could have been grounds for revoking his release and sending him back behind bars.

"It does not appear you have learned from your mistakes and you are indeed fortunate that you have not been revoked and returned to jail," the parole board wrote in documents obtained by the Free Press.

"Your impulsivity, poor decision-making and your inability to follow the conditions of your parole over the long term suggests you have a well-entrenched criminal mindset and values. Your behaviour suggests that you continue to require the structure, monitoring and controls of a halfway house."

Torres and two co-accused were charged with first-degree murder for the killing of Beeper, which made national headlines for its brutality.

Police say the killers had mistaken Beeper for a member of the Indian Posse street gang. They were out looking for revenge that night after one of their friends was beaten by IP members weeks earlier. They exchanged high-fives after the killing.

All three pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

The gunman, Conrad Johnson, was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. He walked out of a federal penitentiary in late January, less than 10 years after he began serving a life sentence.

Another passenger, Kami Pozniak, served less than two years in jail for her role. She has been in and out of the criminal justice system ever since.

Torres was convicted of manslaughter and originally given a 12-month conditional sentence, increased to three and a half years in prison on Crown appeal.

He was back on the streets by 1998, only to return to his gang and criminal lifestyle, culminating in a violent home invasion.

The victims -- several adults and children -- watched as Torres and three co-accused looted the home and stole the family's van. They were nabbed after a brief chase by police.

Torres's parole was revoked and he eventually received an additional 11 years in prison for the violent robbery.

Just six years later, Torres was back out. He was given day parole, which eventually turned into full parole in the fall of 2005.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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