The man convicted of stabbing Winnipeg lawyer Justin Silicz to death in June 2019 will spend at least a decade behind bars.
Keishawn Mitchell was sentenced Thursday to life in prison by Justice Gerald Chartier in a Winnipeg courtroom.
Last November, after less than a day of deliberation, jurors rejected 21-year-old Mitchell’s defence that he was protecting himself when he stabbed Silicz. Mitchell was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Chartier said the jury called for a 15-year period of parole ineligibility.
Although his decision ultimately reduced that by a year, he noted Mitchell is at a high risk to re-offend.
Court heard Silicz’s death stemmed from an argument on Winnipeg Avenue on a late spring night nearly three years ago.
A group, including Mitchell, approached Silicz and his friends, asking them for a cigarette.
It soon led to a verbal argument, when Mitchell punched Silicz’ friend Tony Hazjler in the face.
When Silicz attempted to jump in, he was stabbed twice.
Justice Chartier noted that Mitchell had previous convictions as an adult, had been involved with altercations in jail since his initial incarceration, and was the “lone aggressor” in the incident that led to Silicz’s death.
Mitchell, wearing a black suit, blue sneakers and a black facemask, shuffled out of the room after the sentencing, taking a long, emotionless look at the gallery.
“Justin Silicz was a peacemaker, who tried to deescalate a confrontation, ultimately laying down his life for his friends,” the family says in a statement to media.
“Our family is healing from this senseless loss. The depth of our love makes the grief longer.”
The defence says it’s considering an appeal.
He’ll also face a DNA order and a mandatory weapons ban.
— with files from Joe Scarpelli