Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/11/2008 (4085 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Thomas Ross Halpin, 20, was sentenced to an effective eight-year sentence in provincial court Friday after pleading guilty to manslaughter earlier this week in connection to the violent death of Alvin Randall McDonald, 20, last summer.
Halpin had originally been charged with second-degree murder for firing the single shot that ripped through McDonald's heart and killed him, but problems with evidence led the Crown and defence lawyer Martin Glazer to reach a plea deal.
Prosecutor Geoff Bayly told Judge Lynn Stannard that on the early morning of June 16, 2007, Halpin and a friend were walking near 420 Pacific Ave. when they got into a verbal dispute with two people who had been drinking heavily at a nearby house party.
Halpin's friend was wearing a red-coloured shirt, potentially signalling that he was a gang member wandering into rival turf, leading people at the party to confront the two.
"This colour ... appears to have been the cause of the argument," Bayly said. There's no evidence Halpin or his friend are connected to any gang, he added.
At some point during the heated exchange, Halpin whipped out a .22 calibre single-shot pistol and fired it at McDonald, killing him. Friends tried to resuscitate him but he was declared dead on arrival at hospital. Halpin and his friend fled the scene.
Homicide investigators were originally challenged by inconsistent statements given by people at the party in describing a suspect, but caught a break after pulling surveillance camera footage from a nearby business showing two men walking down the street near the incident and, moments later, running the other way.
Police took the tape and showed it to two witnesses who helped them identify four "persons of interest," but Halpin was not one of them. They later came across him while looking to interview Halpin's roommate in connection to the shooting.
Halpin initially denied knowing anything, but his alibi fell apart after his sister told investigators she received a call from him in the moments after the incident where he told her that "he just shot someone in self-defence," Bayly told Stannard.
While Halpin was originally charged with second-degree murder, the manslaughter plea came after the Crown and Glazer concluded he was panicked after seeing people coming out of the party house to confront he and his friend, and didn't intend to kill McDonald. It would have been nearly impossible for the Crown to prove Halpin intended to kill, Bayly said.
Ten members of the victim's family — all from Wabaseemoong First Nation north of Kenora — packed into the courtroom to hear the submissions and Stannard's acceptance of the jointly-recommended prison term for Halpin. With double-time credit of 34 months in custody awaiting trial, Halpin has a little over five years left to serve. He'll be eligible for parole after he serves two-thirds of his remaining sentence.