An unexpected move by defence lawyer Aaron Fox has altered the path toward finding out if the La Loche school shooter will be sentenced as a youth or an adult.
After the Crown wrapped up its case, the defence asked to include a Gladue report on his client. The assessment is meant to take an indigenous person’s circumstances and upbringing into consideration for sentencing.
“It’s too important an issue not to deal with,” Fox said.
The Crown is seeking an adult sentence for the youth, who has admitted to killing four people and wounding seven others in the northern Saskatchewan community in January 2016.
“Given his advanced age for a young person and the extreme seriousness of the offences and the extremely serious and grave impact that it had on the community and the victims,” Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang said.
But it’s the timing that’s creating confusion, because the report could have been compiled earlier in the court process. Fox said he expected to see more detail on the shooter’s history in the pre-sentence report, like how the teen did not have a father figure.
“When you read, for example as we heard some of the evidence today, that he didn’t have someone that he could turn to if he had a problem, that’s kind of significant,” Fox said.
In testimony, a case worker addressed seven incident reports during the offender’s incarceration at Kilburn Hall — the bulk of which had to do with self-harm concerns.
In March 2017, the teen slid a note under his door, depicting a stick figure with a gun pointed at its head, with written text expressing disdain for life. He was placed in a holding area where he gave a security camera the middle finger and shot an imaginary gun at it.
FULL COVERAGE: La Loche school shooting
The shooter said he got an “extreme, scary rush,” from firing a gun.
Christopher Hales, who is the teen’s case worker at Kilburn Hall in Saskatoon where the youth is being held, said the admission was made when he asked the shooter why he did it.
“Everyone wants to know why,” the youth told Hales.
Hales added that the teen’s only explanation for the shooting was that he “wanted to see what it would be like” to shoot someone. Hales was testifying in a Meadow Lake, Sask., courtroom on Wednesday as the sentencing hearing.
During his testimony, Hales talked about the youth’s behavior at the detention centre.
At one point, Hales said the youth asked to see newspaper articles about the shooting, which was refused.
“We don’t discuss news articles or anything from the outside,” Hales testified.
The Crown also discussed the comment the shooter made about getting a gift on the anniversary of the shooting.
During testimony last month, corrections worker Tanis Fidler said the youth had asked staff “if they were buying him a gift” one the one-year anniversary.
Hales said the teen smirked and during cross-examination by Fox, Hales said the anniversary of the shooting was raised with the teen to understand how he was feeling, with staff telling the youth it is not OK to “joke” about receiving a gift.
He added that the youth hasn’t appeared overly emotional since victim impact statements were heard last month but said the youth has been told in the past not to smile or make positive comments about violent acts or terrorist attacks.
On Thursday, the defence plans to call a psychiatrist and a “family witness.” A psychologist is scheduled to appear Friday, the same day the shooter will address the court if he chooses to.