Cansanay guilty of second degree murder
Guilty in shooting death
JURORS have found a Winnipeg gang member guilty of killing an innocent bystander with a stray bullet meant for one of his drug-dealing rivals -- three years after he was cleared of any wrongdoing for the same crime.
Jeffrey Cansanay was convicted Thursday night of second-degree murder and several weapons offences for his role in the October 2005 killing of Winnipeg teen Phil Haiart.
Haiart was walking in the West End when he was caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting. His death outraged Winnipeggers and triggered beefed-up police patrols of the area.
Jurors spent the past month hearing evidence and began deliberations Wednesday afternoon. They returned with a verdict just after 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
Cansanay, 23, previously went on trial in 2007 but was cleared of any wrongdoing by a judge who refused to allow videotaped police statements of two unco-operative key witnesses to be played in court. The Manitoba Court of Appeal later overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge had erred in law.
Cansanay now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. The judge has the option of raising it to between 11 and 25 years. Sentencing has been adjourned until later this spring. Cansanay remains in custody.
Cansanay showed no visible reaction to the verdict, which was also heard by members of Haiart's family.
The two intended targets of the bullets that hit Haiart were Gharib Abdullah and Cory Amyotte, who gave lengthy video statements in which they blamed Cansanay and his co-accused, Corey Spence. Their street gang, the Mad Cowz, had been waging war on Cansanay and his associates for selling drugs on their "turf" inside a McGee Street home. Their statements were pivotal to the Crown's case because police never recovered the weapon used to shoot Haiart, so no forensic analysis could be done.
However, Abdullah and Amyotte refused to take the witness stand at Cansanay's first trial. The Crown then tried to have their videotaped statements shown to jurors, but Justice Morris Kaufman refused on the grounds it wouldn't be fair to Cansanay to let their words go unchallenged by cross-examination. With no other evidence, the Crown was forced to close its case.
At Spence's case a few weeks later, the judge agreed with the Crown's motion and jurors watched their videotaped evidence. The 19-year-old was convicted and given life in prison with no chance of parole for at least seven years after being raised from youth court.
Abdullah and Amyotte were cited for contempt of court for their refusal to testify and received precedent-setting prison terms -- four years for Amyotte, three and a half for Abdullah.
Both men were called to testify when Cansanay's new trial began last month. Abdullah was now co-operative, telling jurors he saw Cansanay open fire on him and Amyotte.
However, Amyotte took the witness stand and claimed he was "in hiding" at his girlfriend's house at the time of the shooting and didn't see anything.
Cansanay's lawyer, Greg Brodsky, told jurors in closing arguments Wednesday it was dangerous to believe anything Abdullah and Amyotte told police and his client should be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Jurors clearly disagreed.
For the jury to convict Cansanay of second degree murder, they must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Cansanay caused the death of Haiart and that his actions were intentional.
If the jury is not satisfied that Cansanay's actions killed Haiart, they must acquit him of all charges.
If they are satisfied that he did kill Haiart but that it was NOT INTENTIONAL, then they must convict Cansanay of Manslaughter (unintentional killing).
For the jury to convict of attempted murder, they must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Cansanay had the intent to murder innocent bystander Jalloh and two rival gang members, Abdullah and Amyotte.
If the jury is NOT satisfied that Cansanay had the INTENT to murder the three individuals, they must convict of Discharge a Firearm with Intent, which means Cansanay did discharge the gun at Abdullah and Amyotte with intent, but did not intend to injure Jalloh.
The Crown alleges that Cansanay fired the shots at rival gang members as part of gang war over territory regarding the selling of crack cocaine.
The Crown's key witness was Gharib Abdullah, the rival gang member who the Crown alleges, the bullets were intended for. He testified that he saw Cansanay holding a gun prior to the shots being fired that killed Haiart and wounded Jalloh. He did NOT directly see Cansanay fire the gun. He never saw WHO pulled the trigger. In the previous trial against Cansanay, where he was acquitted, Abdullah refused to testify and was convicted of contempt of court. He is an active member of the Mad Cowz gang, a rival gang to the one Cansanay was a member of, the African Mafia. Abdullah may simply want to implicate Cansanay because he was a rival gang member who left the Mad Cowz. Defence argued that Abdullah's testimony is uncredible and should be dismissed because both Abdullah and Amyotte were convicted of contempt of court after they refused to testify at Cansanay's first trial in 2007. They are manipulative and have lied in the past. Abdullah, who is on parole currently, only testified in the current trial to help his case against deportation, defence alleged. He only told the story that the Crown wants the jury to hear. Defence said, lying comes easy to these people.
Amyotte also took the stand but claimed he wasn't at the scene of the crime, which is inconsistent with his videotaped statement to police.
I would not have believed anything that Amyotte or Abdullah were saying. To me, the Crown did not prove Cansanay's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore, I felt that he should have been acquitted of all charges. Both rival gang members were unreliable, had been convicted previously for contempt of court and had motive to lie, to implicate a rival gang member (Cansanay). I was not satisfied beyond a doubt that Cansanay was the one who pulled the trigger and who INTENTIONALLY murdered Haiart and wounded Jalloh. I am not sure where the jury found the evidence suggesting that it was an intentional murder... because to me, there wasn`t any. It is dangerous to convict based solely on eyewitness testimony which cannot be corroborated by other sources or physical evidence, especially testimony from witnesses which are unreliable and not trustworthy.
In this case, the jury made parole recommendations for Cansanay. One said 25 years, one said 17 years, three said 15 years, four said 10 years and three had no recommendation.
I would suggest the least amount possible, which is 10 years. The Judge will sentence Cansanay later this spring. Until then, he remains in custody.