An infamous Prince Albert gang member pleaded guilty to murder and armed escape from custody this afternoon, and was handed a life sentence.
Braidy Chase Vermette, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the 2015 shooting of 23-year-old Troy Cecil Napope. Vermette had initially elected to be tried by judge and jury, but changed his plea to guilty Monday afternoon. Vermette was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 20 years. Because of Vermette’s violent escape, additional security was present inside and outside the courtroom, and he appeared wearing handcuffs, shackles and a body belt.
Vermette’s accomplice in the murder, 30-year-old Skylar Patrick Bird, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and was given a life sentence in May of 2017. Bird will be eligible for parole in 10 years.
Crown prosecutor John Morrall said Napope, a member of the Terror Squad street gang, was attacked outside a party because Vermette, the founder of a Terror Squad splinter group called Tax Set, believed Napope was making threats against his life.
Morrall said Napope spent the evening of May 27 and early morning of May 28 at a Terror Squad house party in Prince Albert, occasionally leaving to pick up alcohol and collect cash. During one of his stops, Morrall said Napope picked up a shotgun which he was storing at a friend’s house, and later showed the weapon to others at the party.
Napope was sitting in his car outside the house party with the shotgun across his lap and Bird in the passenger seat, Morrall said, when Vermette approached the vehicle and shot Napope in the leg before the victim could raise his own weapon. Bird and Vermette forced Napope into the rear of his own car and demanded money, Morrall said, before driving the wounded man to a remote location roughly four km past the Saskatchewan Penitentiary. Vermette shot Napope in the head multiple times, the prosecutor said, and the pair deposited his body in a slough where it remained until it was found by the RCMP’s Underwater Recovery Team in April of 2016.
After the murder, Morrall said the pair burned Napope’s car at a different location, and disposed of their firearms and blood-stained clothing.
Vermette was arrested and charged after a year-long investigation, Morrall said, but on March 30, 2016, escaped from custody while being transported to hospital from Prince Albert Provincial Correctional Centre. The gang member stabbed himself in the arm to ensure the trip to hospital, Morrall said, and arranged an ambush with another Tax Set member.
When Vermette arrived at the Victoria Hospital, Morrall said two men ambushed the guards escorting him. One of the men sprayed bear spray at the guards, while the other menaced them with a shotgun. A large-scale manhunt ensued before Vermette and his girlfriend Tristen Smith were found and arrested during a fiery police raid April 7, 2016 in the R.M. of Buckland.
“This accused was the mastermind behind the escape,” Morrall told the court. “Obviously, the two guards were extremely traumatized.”
For using a firearm while escaping lawful custody, Vermette was handed a seven-year sentence which will be served concurrently with the life sentence. He was also prohibited from owning firearms for life, and will have to submit DNA samples as required.
Defence lawyer Garth Bendig said his client was willing to accept responsibility for the crime.
“Mr. Vermette showed remorse at a relatively early stage for his involvement in the death of Mr. Napope,” Bendig said.
Asked if he had anything to say personally, Vermette shook his head.
“I love you guys,” Vermette called out to supporters in the gallery as he was led from the courtroom under close guard.
On Twitter: @TaylorMacP
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