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Crime

Alberta teen found guilty of shooting German tourist

WATCH: A teen from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation has been found guilty of aggravated assault and recklessly discharging a firearm. Jill Croteau reports.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story reported that the shooting incident happened a highway located on Stoney Nakoda First Nation. Highway 1A is not located on First Nations land. The story has been amended with the correct information. 

A youth has been found guilty of shooting a German tourist in the head on a highway west of Calgary last year.

A judge convicted the boy from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, who cannot be identified because he was 16 at the time, has been charged with aggravated assault and recklessly discharging a firearm.

READ MORE: Family of German tourist shot in head on Alberta highway thanks public for support

Court heard that Horst Stewin was driving a black SUV on an Alberta highway with his family when someone in a passing car shot him. His vehicle veered off the highway and crashed into some trees.

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RCMP on scene on Highway 1A in southern Alberta after a tourist was shot on Thursday, Aug. 2.
RCMP on scene on Highway 1A in southern Alberta after a tourist was shot on Thursday, Aug. 2. Global News

Stewin survived and was transported back to Germany, where doctors removed eight bullet fragments from his brain.

He is paralyzed on his right side, gets confused and has memory issues.

“The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that (the accused) is the shooter,” provincial court Judge George Gaschler said in his decision Friday.

Closing arguments heard in trial of youth accused of shooting German tourist in Alberta
Closing arguments heard in trial of youth accused of shooting German tourist in Alberta

A sentencing hearing is to be held on Feb. 10.

During the trial, the victim’s wife told police the family was driving along the highway because her husband rides horses and was a fan of the western lifestyle.

She said a vehicle passed by with its front passenger window rolled down, and a man wearing a ball cap shot her husband. She said she heard a ‘pop’ and smelled smoke before Stewin slumped forward.

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READ MORE: Trial hears German tourist shot in Alberta had 8 bullet fragments removed from brain

Court heard that the accused, who is now 17, had been sitting in the seat behind the driver, but the victim’s wife said a man in the front passenger seat was the shooter.

Defence lawyer Balfour Der told Global News he was “quite disappointed” with the outcome.

“I thought there was plenty of reasonable doubt in this case based on the quality of the witnesses that the prosecution called,” Der said. “After cross-examination, I don’t know if you could have believed anything they said.”

“Two of the key witnesses for the prosecution who were pointing at my client as the shooter had him shooting from different parts of the car,” Der added. “These are people who, in cross-examination, admitted they didn’t know what they were talking about and that they weren’t sure and that they were drinking, and they were flip-flopping on the evidence.”

READ MORE: Defence targets witnesses in case of teen charged with shooting German tourist in Alberta

“With something like that, credibility is very important,” Der said. “I don’t know how we can place a case on that which requires a solid foundation.”

A number of other charges against the accused, including attempted murder, were earlier withdrawn.

“[The accused’s] grandmother, who I spoke to, is quite upset,” Der said. “He’s a young guy and has been in jail for this. He’s turning 18 in a week or two, so they had other hopes and plans for his 18th birthday other than being in jail.”

– With files from Global News’ Jill Croteau

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