An Alberta man found guilty of second-degree murder in his friend’s 2016 death will not be eligible to apply for parole for 16 years.
Gordon Robinson received his sentence in a Wetaskiwin courtroom on Tuesday morning.
In April 2016, Robinson got into a fight with his friend Ryan Ross over a woman. Later that day, Ross was shot and killed by Robinson.
Ross’ body was found by friends who called 911 and directed paramedics to an acreage near Leduc in the Green Acres community. Friends described it as place where drugs, guns and violence were common.
Ross was 34 years old when he was killed, having been shot three times at close range in the kitchen of Robinson’s home.
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Court heard Ross had been couch-surfing there for quite some time.
Two days after Ross’ body was found, RCMP arrested 32-year-old Robinson and charged him with first-degree murder. The change was later downgraded to second-degree murder.
According to court documents, in a six-hour interview with police, Robinson admitted to killing Ross, but said it was self defence. He argued Ross was planning to kill him with a machine gun.
Robinson also said he was very intoxicated at the time, so it wasn’t intentional.
One month later, both the house and garage were intentionally lit on fire, RCMP said.
During a three-week trial by judge, the Crown called police witnesses, a DNA expert, medical examiner and 13 civilians – none of whom saw the shooting.
Evidence included photos of the scene, a storage facility and Robinson’s car. Cellphone records between Ross and Robinson the day of Ross’ death were also entered as evidence, showing their argument. Court also saw video evidence of statements Robinson made to police.
Judge Tamara Friesen noted most of the civilian witness testimony was challenging – as they were “engaged in a high-risk lifestyle involving copious drug use, primarily methamphetamines.”
She said many had prior criminal records for property and drug offences and she couldn’t rely on their testimony.
“Some of the witnesses seemed to be trying to be as honest with me as they could while still staying within the confines of whatever external concerns and threats were pressing on them.”
By Robinson’s own admission, he never called police following the shooting – instead he said he took Ross’ machine gun and ditched his own gun.
“Mr. Robinson repeated and elaborated on this version of events: he had no intention of killing Mr. Ross when he entered the house, but Mr. Ross had a machine gun, and drew on him first, so he shot him,” Friesen wrote in her decision.
The judge did not believe Robinson’s self-defence testimony and found him guilty of second-degree murder in November 2019.
On Monday afternoon at the Wetaskiwin Law Courts, the judge read three victim impact statements written by Ross’ family members, including his dad and 13-year-old niece.
In one statement, Ross was described as being the glue and protector for his family.
Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, but courts still determine parole eligibility.
Crown prosecutor Drew Gillespie argued Robinson should not be able to apply for parole for 17 to 19 years because he described the case as being on the “higher end” of second-degree murder.
Gillespie said Robinson was already forbidden from having a gun at the time of the offence based on prior convictions and that he shot Ross not once, but three times.
Defence lawyer Peter Royal said he feels 13-15 years is appropriate.
Robinson has a prior criminal history, which includes assaulting a peace officer while in custody, impaired driving and being unlawfully at large.
Before the judge made her decision, Robinson was allowed to address the court and he did so in a long and bizarre speech, again citing self-defence.
“I was afraid for my life,” he said. “His intentions, I believe, were to kill me and take everything I have.”
He went on at great length, rambling at times, even comparing his case to Travis Vader’s, as well as farmers protecting their land.
“I’m ashamed of this country where a man can’t defend himself against an armed intruder.”
He asked the judge repeatedly to change her mind and said his conviction is a gross miscarriage of justice.
Gillespie said Robinson was also given a lifetime firearms ban.