A 16-year-old stood in the prisoner’s box Friday to express remorse for his role in the deaths of two Mac’s convenience store employees.
“I’m truly sorry for what I did,” said the teen, who can only be identified by his initials G.S. “I’m trying to change.”
The boy was 13 when he went along with two men twice his age on a robbery spree in December 2015. Store clerks Karanpal Bhangu and Ricky Cenabre were gunned down by the adults in two Mac’s stores.
A report prepared for the court shows that G.S. is related to one of the co-accused. The other man was the relative’s friend.
The night of the murders, G.S. and several family members were at a drinking party, then the trio left to commit the robberies. G.S. admits that he was under the influence of alcohol and Xanax that night.
G.S. was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter, two counts of robbery, and wearing a disguise. The Crown and defence made a joint sentencing submission to the court, recommending he be sentenced to three years in custody. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donna Shelley accepted that recommendation.
The teen has been in custody at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre since his arrest. After receiving credit for time already served, G.S. will be released from custody in two weeks.
Began selling drugs at age ten
Reports prepared for the court show G.S. lived the first eight years of his life with his mother, who struggled with alcoholism and sometimes consumed methamphetamine in front of him.
Children’s Services got involved with the family, one report said, “due to concerns about neglect, substance use, violence in the home, emotional injury and worries about gang involvement.”
G.S. admits he used pot for the first time at age six, because his uncles “thought it would be funny.”
He moved in with his grandmother at age 8, but admitted he committed crimes behind her back.
By the time he was 10, the report said, G.S. was selling drugs at the request of his cousins and uncles.
“Most of his family is involved with gangs and drugs,” the report said.
G.S. began selling marijuana at age 10, then moved on to selling cocaine soon after.
He claimed he was using cocaine regularly by age 12, and began to commit robberies around the same age.
His criminal record includes a separate conviction for robbery and assault, along with weapons charges.
“He carried numerous weapons and he felt powerful in his position,” the report said.
The teen told the author of the report he no longer feels that way about committing robberies.
In court Friday, Justice Shelley told the youth: “Believe me, what you did isn’t a sign of toughness or bravery. I hope you now realize that.”
The judge praised the teen for the progress he has made while in custody.
The teen is taking Grade 11 courses and hopes to finish high school once he’s released. If he graduates, the report noted, he would be only the third person in his family to do so.
G.S. told the author of one court report that he was a gang member. According to the report, the teen vowed he would try to keep his distance from gangs when he was released into the community.
But the teen said he was certain “he cannot simply walk away from it without some type of consequence.”
During the sentencing hearing, the judge expressed her condolences to the victims’ families.
“I hope you can put yourself in their shoes,” Shelley told the teen. “I hope you will show your remorse for what happened to these families by changing your life. By being a good example to your younger siblings.”
Co-accused Laylin Delorme has been found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Bhangu and Cenabre. He is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Colton Steinhauer is set to go to trial next spring on two counts of first-degree murder.