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Young killer gets life sentence

Shot stranger he thought was a rival gangster

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Police attend the scene of a shooting on Boyd Avenue in September 2011. The killer thought the victim was a rival gang member.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Police attend the scene of a shooting on Boyd Avenue in September 2011. The killer thought the victim was a rival gang member. Photo Store

The killing of a friend and fellow gang associate was "gasoline" on a fire of revenge for a Winnipeg teen who went out, bought a gun and shot a total stranger he thought was a rival dead on a North End street, a Manitoba judge was told Monday.

"I did it pretty much because of what happened to my friend," James Sinclair, then 14, told police upon his arrest two days after he shot David Vincett, 20, and left him to die on a Boyd Avenue boulevard early on Sept. 25, 2011.

Sinclair, now 16, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and appeared in court Monday to consent to being sentenced as an adult to life in prison without a chance of parole for seven years. Since the adult term was not contested, he can now be identified.

Days before the shooting, Sinclair's friend, Clark "Clarky" Stevenson, 15, was stabbed to death near the corner of College Avenue and Aikins Street. Stevenson was associated with the Indian Posse (IP) street gang. Police allege he was killed by a member of the rival Most Organized Brothers (MOB).

Sinclair also had IP ties, and just prior to Stevenson's death was released from a youth jail on supervised "reintegration leave" after being convicted in a separate, non-fatal shooting, prosecutor Lisa Carson told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Brenda Keyser.

Sinclair bought a .357 Magnum revolver and 28 bullets from an unspecified source after getting out of jail and took them to a gathering on Boyd on the morning he shot Vincett. While there, he told friends he was going to "shoot someone that night," Carson said.

He said he was going to shoot a "guppy" (rival gang member), Carson said.

Vincett had no ties to the MOB but wore the gang's black-and-white colours to avoid being hassled by gang members, his mother has previously said. He was spotted walking near the home, prompting Sinclair to dart across the street to "see what he was repping," court heard.

"IP," Sinclair said to Vincett. "MOB P-K (Indian Posse killer)," Vincett responded.

Sinclair whipped out the gun and Vincett started to run. Sinclair dropped to one knee, grasped the gun in both hands and aimed at Vincett's back. He fired one shot that hit the victim in the back of the head. Vincett, thrown by the impact of the bullet, fell to the ground in front of a home on Boyd and died.

Sinclair went home and hid the gun under the porch. He told family members what he'd done and how it was in retaliation for the Stevenson killing, Carson said. One relative moved the gun and hid it while another tossed his clothes in the trash, court heard.

Sinclair was arrested after a relative told a teacher at school what he had admitted doing.

He was co-operative with investigators and physically re-enacted Vincett's killing for them, court heard.

Stevenson's death was like "gasoline" poured on the anger Sinclair was feeling, defence lawyer Darren Sawchuk said. "But unfortunately, that's the reality for a lot of young people in our city," he said.

"You have a very angry young man with a lot of other angry young people in the community, and unfortunately the events of that night came together in one constellation," he said.

Sinclair can't apply for parole until Sept. 28, 2018. By law, he must remain in a youth jail until he turns 18.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 10, 2013 A6

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