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Jury finds Regina man guilty of two first-degree murder charges

A Regina man has been found guilty of killing two people in separate drive-by shootings during a street gang war in the city in 2019. Dave Parsons / Viewer-Submitted

A Regina man has been found guilty of killing two people in separate drive-by shootings during a street gang war in the city in 2019.

Read more: Accused was ‘fall guy’ in shootings: defence

Dillon Ricky Whitehawk, 27, was found guilty of two first-degree murder charges at Regina’s Court of Queen Bench today by a jury who took nearly nine hours to deliberate over the course of two days, following a three-week trial.

Whitehawk shot and killed Jordan Denton, 27, and Keenan Toto, 23 three weeks apart in late 2019.

“We’re happy for the family of both … to bring some closure to them. We’re glad the jury saw the evidence as we saw it and came to right verdict,” prosecutor David Belanger said following the conviction.

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The jury heard that Whitehawk targeted the men because they were wearing the rival colour red, and the killings helped advance his status within his gang.

The defence had argued Whitehawk didn’t pull the trigger, but was the fall guy for a group of people who were trying to save themselves.

Defence lawyer Thomas Hynes said Whitehawk was disappointed, but not surprised by the trial’s outcome.

Hynes said his client may have some challenges swallowing the jury’s verdict, as he wonders whether they found him guilty just because he was a gangster.

“Overall, I’d say he’s taking it as well as any human person could,'” Hynes said.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled as the Crown and defence await the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on whether consecutive life sentences are constitutional as they relate to parole eligibility.

The Criminal Code says those convicted of first-degree murder would have to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole. However, in cases involving multiple killings the court has the right to impose consecutive life sentences in blocks of 25 years.

“In Mr. Whitehawk’s case, in the current state … the judge could have the discretion to impose up to 50 years period before he’s eligible for parole,” Belanger said.

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That means Whitehawk would be 77 before he becomes eligible for parole.

Read more: Footage obtained from home security cameras shows Keenan Toto’s last moments

The Court of Appeal of Quebec had found this unconstitutional in the sentencing of Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six men at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Bissonnette was originally sentenced to life in prison without being eligible for parole for 40 years after pleading guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.

On appeal, Quebec’s highest court reduced that to a life sentence without parole eligibility for 25 years, and in March the case was argued in the Supreme Court of Canada.

 

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