A convicted shooter asked staff at the youth correction facility where he was incarcerated if they planned to get him a gift on the anniversary of his massacre in La Loche.
This, and several other facts, came out of a pre-sentence report discussed in a Meadow Lake courtroom this morning at the sentencing hearings for a young gunman who killed four and injured seven others in La Loche on January 22, 2016. The now 19-year-old cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and the hearing is to determine whether he will face sentencing as an adult.
He pleaded guilty last October to the second-degree murders of Dayne and Drayden Fontaine who were killed in their home, and to the first-degree murders of teacher Adam Wood and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier, who were killed at the La Loche Community School.
Tanis Fidler, who works with the Department of Corrections and Policing, was called as a Crown witness. She interviewed the shooter on two separate occasions, on November 28, 2016 and March 6, 2017 for a combined total of three hours. She also gathered information from La Loche Community School, family members and other supports in the community.
It was noted in the report that on January 22, 2017 – on the one year anniversary of the shootings – the accused asked the staff at Kilburn Hall, the youth correction facility in Saskatoon, if he was going to get a gift. This was told to Fidler by the staff at the facility, and she said that a psychologist was consulted. She was not present for that comment so couldn’t speak further to its context.
Other observations from the report include one from a teacher who noted that the shooter was not a student who stood out in school, but one who could easily slip through the cracks. He was about to fail Grade 10 for the third time in 2016.
Fidler asked the shooter at one point in her interviews why he didn’t kill himself before surrendering to police after the attack. Earlier this week, it had been previously been revealed he contemplated his death before surrendering to police. He said he chose to live; he didn’t want to make his mom sad.
The pre-sentencing report is standard in court procedures and while it offers a glimpse into the crime, it also determines the criminal's likelihood of recidivism. Psychologically, the report considers factors such antisocial personality patterns, pro-criminal attitudes, substance abuse among a few others. According to Fidler It is a standard type of assessment model that has been tailored to evaluating youth in Saskatchewan. In comments after court, Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang that this tool does not assess risk for violent offenses, only general recidivism.
Close to the end of the questioning, the defence asked if the shooter seemed to brag about his actions. Fidler responded by saying ‘he just told me what happened’.
In the afternoon, Christopher Hales, the shooter’s youth worker at Kilburn Hall Youth Facility took the stand. He had a lengthy report that both the Crown and defence wanted to review further, so he will be returning in June to speak to that. However, both sides did ask a few general questions about the shooter’s activities there.
Since being at Kilburn, the shooter’s literacy has improved from a Grade 2 to a Grade 9 reading level, Hales said. He added the teen regularly sees both a psychiatrist and psychologist and is on medication for depression and anxiety.
Hales said nights are particularly difficult for the teen, because he thinks of his victims.
“You’re in your small room and your mind starts to race,” he noted, adding the shooter has often expressed feeling helpless and hopeless.
The first week of hearings concluded just after 3 p.m. today. Judge Janet McIvor commended those who attended court all week – in both Meadow Lake and La Loche – for their respect for the judicial process.
“The community of La Loche has conducted itself in such an admirable way,” she added.
The second week of sentence hearings will take place June 13-16.
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