A lawyer for a young man who shot and killed four people and injured seven others in northern Saskatchewan is to argue in court Thursday that the offender should serve his sentence as a youth.
The shooter was weeks shy of turning 18 when he killed two brothers at their home and then a teacher and a teacher’s aide at the La Loche high school in 2016.
He was sentenced as an adult last year to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and attempted murder.
Defence lawyer Aaron Fox plans to ask the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to sentence the shooter as a youth or order a new hearing.
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The shooter, now 21, is to appear in court by video.
A publication ban ordered because of the appeal prevents identifying him.
In January, Fox filed documents with the Appeal Court that said his client is a “lost soul who slipped through the cracks” as he suffers from different mental disorders and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Fox argued the sentencing judge focused on the gravity of the crime while failing to consider evidence that spoke to cognitive problems affecting the offender’s maturity, empathy, ability to understand consequences and, above all, his level of blame.
“All of which were aggravated by a multitude of surrounding circumstances, not the least of which was the failure of the education system in La Loche, to supply him with the help that he needed,” said the documents.
They added that the shooter had an IQ of 68 and, at the time of the shooting, was repeating Grade 10 for a third time.
The Crown previously argued in court that the shooter should be sentenced as an adult given the seriousness of the crime and the offender’s circumstances.
In her sentencing decision, the judge found the shooting involved sophisticated planning. Court heard the shooter researched different kinds of guns and the damage they could do to people. The night before the shootings he did an online search asking, “What does it feel like to kill someone?”
Fox said the shooting was a result of his client’s depression, anxiety and hopelessness.
“His ‘sophisticated plan’ was to shoot people at the school and then die,” said the documents.
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