Final arguments are on hold in the sentencing hearing for a La Loche male youth who shot 11 people in January 2016, killing four and injuring seven. This comes after two defence witness diagnosed the shooter with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
In a Meadow Lake courtroom this morning, both Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang and defence lawyer Aaron Fox appeared via phone and the youth appeared via video. Originally, they were set to present their final arguments in court today.
The youth cannot be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
A Gladue report – which takes into account factors of an Indigenous offender – was ordered during the second week of sentencing hearings.
In the report, facts about the drinking history of the youth’s biological mother came to light. After reviewing the report, defence experts psychiatrist Dr. Mansfield Mela and psychologist Dr. Monty Nelson diagnosed the youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Because of these new developments, Stang asked to cross-examine these defence witnesses, which will happen next week. It is unclear at this time whether the final arguments will occur next Friday or a different date.
Outside of court, La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre spoke to media about the proceedings. During the second week of sentencing hearings in June, Judge Janet McIvor indicated she would like to make her final decision in La Loche, but St. Pierre stood up to say he would like to consult with the community first, citing concerns of the emotional effect it could have. He said with school coming back into session soon, he will talk with more people.
“In the next couple weeks, we’ll have the staff back,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to touch base with that group because it is a school shooting. It did occur in a school, so it would be nice to have their feedback also.”
He said the community is looking forward to what comes out of the proceedings as it will allow the healing process to begin for La Loche residents.
“Because of the nature of what happened, how it happened, the community needs to know what the end result is,” St. Pierre said.
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