Crown seeks 22 years parole ineligibility for men guilty in fatal Edmonton community hall shooting

Click to play video: 'Crown seeks 22 years parole ineligibility for men guilty in fatal Edmonton community hall shooting'
Crown seeks 22 years parole ineligibility for men guilty in fatal Edmonton community hall shooting
Sentencing began for two men found guilty in the death of Hamza Mohamed at the Duggan Community League in August of 2021, where six others were also injured in the shooting. The court heard from Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers, along with one offender. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports. – May 29, 2024

The Crown is seeking 22 years parole ineligibility for two men found guilty in a deadly south Edmonton community hall shooting.

A sentencing hearing got underway Wednesday morning for Abdullahi Yalahow and Christopher Wilson. Both men were found guilty in November 2023 of second-degree murder for their roles in the August 2021 shooting at the Duggan Community Hall.

While second-degree murder convictions come with automatic life sentences, the men’s parole eligibility is still to be determined.

Yalahow’s defence lawyer is asking for 14 years, while Wilson’s lawyer is asking for 15.

Christopher Wilson was found guilty of second-degree murder in connection with an August 2021 shooting at Duggan Community Hall in Edmonton. Supplied: Court evidence

The shooting happened just after 4 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2021, at the community hall in the area of 37th Avenue and 106th Street. Hamza Mohamed, 22, was killed when multiple shots rang out.

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Six other people, including Yalahow, were shot and injured in the shooting.

In court on Wednesday, Yalahow declined to speak, but Wilson spoke directly to the victim’s sister, the Crown and the judge, saying he was very, very sorry.

“That day has changed my life,” Wilson said, adding he knows it changed so many lives. He said he’s not a monster and the exchange was like a “horror scene,” the “brutality” is “mindboggling.”

“The man seen in the (surveillance) video” shown during the trial “is an alien to me,” he said, adding he wants to warn others about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

He told court Wednesday he doesn’t remember what happened, just that his friend was being shot.

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“I did what I did to save my friend’s life,” Wilson said, addressing the Crown and judge, before speaking to the victim’s sister.

“There’s a chance I will watch everyone I love pass away while I’m in a box,” he said, claiming there was “no plan, no plot, no conspiracy” in his actions. “We will unfortunately be forever connected through this life-changing experience.”

Click to play video: '2 men found guilty of murder in Edmonton community hall shooting'
2 men found guilty of murder in Edmonton community hall shooting

In court on Wednesday, Yalahow’s lawyer, Zachary Al-Khatib, asked for his client’s sentencing to be delayed until the fall.

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Al-Khatib told Justice Paul Belzil that he was requesting an enhanced presentence report to be prepared by the African Canadian Civic Council.

The defence lawyer compared the report to a Gladue report, saying it would detail how his client had experienced anti-Black racism in his life and “how the specific life history of Mr. Yalahow resulted in him committing this offence.”

Court heard the report would not be completed until September.

Belzil took issue with that timeline and Al-Khatib’s acknowledgement that his office had not reached out to the African Canadian Civic Council until April.

Belzil said racism was one factor that could and should be taken into account.

“There is no dispute that Black racism exists in this country,” Belzil said, adding that nothing prevented Al-Khatib from sharing those experiences with the court without the report.

The justice added that the fact there was a co-accused and that the victim’s loved ones were waiting on finality should also be taken into account.

“No victim of a homicide should be put through more than they were put through already,” Belzil said.

Court heard several victim impact statements from family and friends of Mohamed. The victim’s sister Hamdi Greening said her brother was the youngest of 10 siblings and described him as “the very embodiment of hope, joy and innocence.”

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“His warm smile, boundless enthusiasm and unwavering love brought light to our darkest days,” Greening wrote in her statement.

She said her brother was the second child her mother lost within one year.

“To this day, she’s still not the same,” Greening said of her mother.

“My dad, on the other hand, left the country in 2017 and hasn’t seen his boys since then which you can imagine his pain. Hearing my dad say he has no reason to live anymore and was ready to end his own life was more heart breaking.”

Click to play video: 'Closing arguments begin in 2021 Edmonton murder trial'
Closing arguments begin in 2021 Edmonton murder trial

Greening said her brother worked in “the field of safety” and was dedicated to his job.

“Hamza had his whole life ahead of him, full of dreams, aspirations and untapped potential. He never got the chance to fulfill those aspirations,” Greening wrote in part.

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“The knowledge that Hamza will never again grace us with his presence, his laughter and his love is a burden we carry every day.

“Our family’s lives are forever marked by the haunting memories of that night and the brutality that was inflicted upon our beloved Hamza.”

The judge is expected to make his decision on parole eligibility on Friday.

Yalahow and Wilson were also found guilty of possessing a loaded restricted firearm, and Yalahow was found guilty of discharging a firearm in a public place.

A third man was charged with manslaughter in the case and is scheduled for trial in June.

— with files from Emily Mertz, Global News

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