Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Men plead guilty in killing of teen

Victim died in plot to take over crack house

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Two Winnipeg men have taken responsibility for the killing of a teen who fell prey to a failed plot to wrest control of a North End crack house from a rival street gang.

Indian Posse members Warner Flett, 25, and Michael Guimond, 35, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday for their roles in the brutal Sept. 4, 2012, attack on Paris Bruce that led to the 16-year-old's death in hospital three days later. Bruce was a member of the Mob Squad gang.

The men admitted Bruce's killing was committed to further the interests of the Indian Posse and pleaded guilty to a criminal-organization offence.

The Crown accepted the pleas in answer to charges of first-degree murder.

Flett and Guimond were part of a group that chased after and attacked Bruce in an Aberdeen Avenue back lane.

At the time, the Mob Squad was under the leadership of Joshua Jeffs, 24, a man who "carried great influence over the younger members and associates of this group," according to a statement of facts read out in court.

Looking to grow his gang's crack-dealing trade, Jeffs decided to approach people living at a "very successful" crack house on Redwood Avenue -- one he knew had ties to the IP -- in hopes they would sell drugs for him, Crown attorney Brent Davidson said.

Jeffs directed "young soldiers" including Bruce, another youth and an 11-year-old boy to make a pitch to take it over, Davidson said.

After rebuffing Bruce and the other teen twice, the people living there called Flett and told him what was happening.

He, Guimond, and other IP members then went to the home, said Davidson.

"The Crown cannot say that all these males were called as 'backup,' however, based upon what transpired shortly thereafter it is clear that some discussions were had amongst the Indian Posse members about the Mob Squad's efforts," Davidson said.

Just after 7:30 a.m. on Sept 4, 2012, Jeffs and the three youths went to the drug house for "a third and fateful time," said Davidson.

The youthful trio went to the door while Jeffs waited in the car, said Davidson. Guimond answered and an argument erupted. Soon after, the trio tossed bits of wood and a brick at Guimond.

A contingent of IP members then stood up and ran out of the house, Davidson said.

The 11-year-old made it to the safety of Jeffs' car, while Bruce and the other youth took off down an Aberdeen Avenue lane. Bruce was caught about 33 metres from the crack house and beaten, court heard.

Guimond admitted striking Bruce a few times, while Flett admitted kicking him, including once in the head.

The teen was able to escape to a nearby yard but was further assaulted there, including being smashed with sticks and stabbed twice with different knives.

A witness cried out, "Stop, police," Davidson said, which caused some of the attackers -- including Guimond and Flett -- to stop and head back to the nearby crack house.

The Crown didn't say what sentences it will seek for the men. Manslaughter carries a maximum term of life in prison.

Guimond had been charged, but never convicted, in two prior city homicides. His brother, Norman, was convicted of manslaughter in 1999 in connection with the killing of grocery store clerk Jeff Giles and was handed a life sentence.

Police initially laid manslaughter charges in Bruce's death but months later upgraded them to first-degree murder. Four other IP associates accused in Bruce's killing saw their charges dropped after Judge Brian Corrin accepted the two men's guilty pleas.

The resolution to the case came just before evidence was called at a preliminary hearing. As a result, Richard Beaulieu, 38, Colin Monkman, 19, and Gregory Myerion, 28, were set to be freed from custody, while Michael Okemow, 25, will remain on remand pending trial as a suspect in the unrelated fatal shooting of Jordan Houle, 24, which took place on Maryland Street just weeks after Bruce was killed.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2014 B3

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