The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Guns in the News: July 16, 2009 Roundup

Posted by cgccanada on July 20, 2009

1. Edmonton Journal, July 16, 2009, Alberta man gets five years for shooting wife dead

EDMONTON — A northern Alberta man who killed his common-law wife by shooting her in the face has been sentenced to more than five years in prison. On Thursday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sandy Park sentenced 42-year-old Joseph Trevor Halcrow to five years and six months in prison, less two months for time served. The judge also ordered him to submit a DNA sample to the national databank, and barred him from owning weapons. A jury convicted Halcrow of manslaughter in May 2007 for killing his wife, Judy Dickie, nearly five years ago. On Oct. 15, 2004, the two were at home together on the Kapawe’no First Nation, where Halcrow’s father is chief. The couple had a history of domestic violence, and Halcrow had been convicted of assaulting Dickie seven years earlier, but on that day there was no evidence of animosity between them. Halcrow claimed at trial he was checking his sawed-off .22 -calibre rifle to make sure it was not loaded when it accidentally fired. Dickie was shot in the head. A gun expert testified at trial the rifle was five centimetres away from her face when it fired. Halcrow ran to his father’s home and they returned together to survey the scene. Halcrow’s father called 911 and when paramedics arrived Halcrow was cradling Dickie. She later died from what Park called a “devastating” injury.  The jury rejected the defence suggestion that the shooting was accidental, and convicted Halcrow of manslaughter. Three months after the jury issued its verdict, Justice Park declared a mistrial, ruling the jury had been intimidated by Halcrow’s brother, who had been jeering at the Crown from the gallery. On the last day of trial, jurors sent a note to the judge saying they would make a fair and honest decision even though they had “safety concerns after the decision.”  In a decision released Sept. 8, the Court of Appeal overturned Park’s decision to declare a mistrial, reinstated the jury’s verdict and ordered Park to continue with sentencing. In court Thursday, Halcrow took his opportunity to speak and mumbled stiffly: “I’m sorry about the accident.” He showed no emotion. Outside court, Dickie’s sister, Diane Sorenson, called the comment a “slap in the face” and said the family would never forgive him for what he did. Sister Darlene Dickie said the sentence was a joke. “It’s hard, it’s really hard,” she said. “But there will be a judgment day way worse for him, and that day will come.” Kapawe’no First Nation is about 250 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

2. Winnipeg Free Press, July 16, 2009, Smuggled Guns Missing, Police worry about future use of high-powered firearm supply

Nearly all of the 22 high-powered handguns smuggled into Winnipeg as part of a cross-border crime network are still missing — a fact that has police and justice officials bracing for further bloodshed. “It’s certainly not inconceivable that one of these guns smuggled across the border has already been used in a homicide,” Mike Sutherland, president of the Winnipeg Police Association, told the Free Press Wednesday. “We know a lot of these guns are in the hands of organized crime and criminal street gangs. They just start shooting up entire neighbourhoods regardless of where the bullets land.” Winnipeg resident Thomas Scher was sentenced this week in North Dakota for his role in a year-long operation that saw the weapons purchased in North Dakota, smuggled across the border and then traded for cash and drugs in the city. Two co-accused remain before the American courts and will be sentenced later this year. Scher told the judge he was deeply sorry for his actions and admitted he exposed his hometown to potential harm. It’s already known that one of the guns — a Jimenez Arms nine-millimetre — was recovered by police in January as part of an ongoing criminal case. No further details have been provided, although Sutherland notes there was a wave of shootings to start the new year. “We literally started this year off with a bang… and that has continued,” he said. U.S. Attorney David Hagler told the Free Press Wednesday he has no idea where the missing weapons have ended up. “Regarding what happened to them (once they got to Winnipeg), it’s anybody’s guess,” said Hagler. The National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST), which is comprised of city police and RCMP officers, is involved in the case but declined to comment Wednesday. RCMP spokeswoman Line Karpish said “guns on the street are always a concern” but added it wasn’t safe for officials to make specific comments while the cases remain before the courts. Sutherland said his front-line officers were seeing an alarming spike in firearms even before the arrival of at least 22 guns from North Dakota. “To have 22 guns, that’s a significant number, you just can’t get around that. The fact we may have only found one of them doesn’t sit well with me or with the members of the Winnipeg Police Service or the public,” he said. “It’s a very significant concern, especially given the number of incidents we’ve had where officers have been confronted and forced to use lethal force.” Sutherland said the true impact of this particular smuggling operation might not be fully realized for years as criminals usually protect their guns and could use them at any time in the future. “We know these guns are being used to intimidate, frighten, wound and kill. I think Winnipeggers have almost become acclimatized (to) shootings. We know that there are numerous incidents that don’t even get reported,” he said. Sutherland believes anyone caught importing weapons should pay a heavy price. “I condemn the actions of anyone involved in this in the strongest possible terms,” he said. Scher, 20, was given a deal by American justice officials because he co-operated with their ongoing investigation. He was sentenced to 366 days in jail and three years of probation. He could be released after serving 85 per cent of his sentence for good behaviour — but will be immediately deported back to Canada. Scher had been playing football at Minot State University on a partial football scholarship when he was recruited by another Winnipeg man to get involved, court was told. Scher enlisted the help of his college friend, Curtis Rolle, who was able to legally purchase the firearms from several North Dakota stores. The two men then drove the guns across the Canadian border and gave them to a co-accused in exchange for payment.

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