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Gang members to be sentenced today for fatal prison beating

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Three high-ranking Winnipeg gang members are facing sentencing today for their roles in a deadly gang beating inside Stony Mountain Institution.

Victor Ryle, Alvin Cote and Charles Coaster were found guilty of manslaughter following a two-week jury trial earlier this year. A fourth accused, Evan Myran, was acquitted of any wrongdoing.

David Tavares, 40, died of massive trauma after being jumped by several other prisoners in March 2005. Ryle was accused of ordering the attack and pleaded not guilty to manslaughter at the start of the trial. Cote, Coaster and Myran were accused of carrying out the fatal beating and were charged with second-degree murder.

Jurors clearly found Tavares' death was not intended by convicting Cote and Coaster of the lesser charge of manslaughter. As well, they obviously had doubts about whether Myran was involved at all and so set him free.

Crown attorney Brian Bell had told jurors in closing arguments the evidence was clear, thanks to testimony from two key witnesses who gave a detailed description of the deadly attack. The bulk of their evidence included specific details about Ryle, Cote and Coaster, but very little about Myran.

But defence lawyers told jurors not to believe the testimony of two convicted felons, suggesting they downplayed their own roles in the case to avoid prosecution.

The Crown suggested members of a Winnipeg street gang went too far with a "disciplinary hearing" that turned deadly.

Tavares was jumped while in a prison recreation room. He was punched and fell to the floor near some pool tables, where he was repeatedly kicked in the head. The attackers then dragged him to a washroom.

The unconscious Tavares was found only after the recreation centre was closed for the day and staff were making sure everybody was out.

Tavares was in Stony Mountain serving a 39-month sentence for driving-related offences.

Jurors heard he became a member of the Native Syndicate while in prison but his conduct, which included openly complaining about several people owing him money, had angered fellow gang members.

A decision was made to discipline Tavares with a timed beating.

Tavares was originally from Thunder Bay, Ont., and had been jailed after a June 28, 2000, drunk-driving incident in which his pickup truck, leaving Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario, went out of control and rolled over, injuring its occupants.

 

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