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Winnipeg teens found guilty in 2011 murder

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Joseph Lalonde

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Joseph Lalonde

They viciously beat an innocent man to death in his own North End yard after attacking his pregnant daughter for absolutely no reason.

Now, two gang-linked Winnipeg teens have been convicted of second-degree murder and are facing the prospect of a lifetime behind bars.

A jury unanimously ruled to convict the pair this morning after slightly less than a full day of deliberating the evidence heard at trial in recent weeks.

Both teens conceded they killed Joseph Lalonde, 48, on Dufferin Avenue in August 2011 but argued they were guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter, not murder. They claimed prosecutors hadn't proven any intent to murder and were side-stepping evidence the youths were drinking excessively hours prior to the attack.

The six women and six men charged with deciding the facts of the case clearly believed otherwise.

Lalonde was knocked down, kicked as well as repeatedly beaten in the head with a bat after seeing the offenders hit his pregnant daughter and stepping in to stop them.

The offenders armed themselves and had gone to Lalonde's home intent on confronting a boy who'd flashed a rival gang's sign at one of them minutes earlier.

That person was gone when they arrived, so they turned on Lalonde's daughter and Lalonde. Neither victim had any connection to gangs.

Every bone in Lalonde's face was shattered by the minute-long beating. He died in hospital a few days after.

The Crown will now seek adult sentences against the killers.

If successful, they will each be handed life sentences without a chance at parole for between five and seven years.

If not, the maximum they can serve as youths is seven years, split four years of jail and three years of conditional supervision in the community.

Sentencing was delayed until later this year to allow for the creation of several reports on their backgrounds and psychological makeup.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Rick Saull urged the teens to co-operate with the process.

"It's the kind of thing where you can really help yourself," he told them.

Relatives of one of the teen killers cried audibly after learning his fate.

Supporters of the victim and the offenders present in court left without comment.

"It's always a difficult verdict for anyone to receive," defence lawyer Scott Newman said after court of his client's reaction.

"I can't fault the jury — they took their time and they applied all of the evidence in a fair manner," he said. "This is something that's been hanging over their heads for about three years now," said Newman. "I fully expect my client to express remorse to the report writers, to the judge."

The other teen's lawyer, Bill Armstrong, said the case was a "horrible reflection" of Winnipeg's street gang problems.

"Hopefully (it) sends a message we have to take steps to prevent gangs and not (just) deal with gangs after incidents like this happen," Armstrong said.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 12:51 PM CDT: Updates with full writethru

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