10 year term for shooting of ex-gangster
He tried to walk away from a Winnipeg street gang -- and ended up paralyzed for life.
Details of a shocking June 2008 attack emerged publicly for the first time this week, painting a grim picture of the challenge facing those who want to escape a criminal lifestyle.
Justin Meeches, 32, pleaded guilty Monday to shooting the 36-year-old victim in the head and back as revenge for leaving the Indian Posse. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison under a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.
"You deserve every minute of the time you will serve," said Queen's Bench Justice Glenn Joyal.
Meeches admits going to the victim's Ross Avenue home, armed with a .22-calibre rifle, and opening fire after his former gang associate opened the door. The victim's spinal cord was severed, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair.
The man's common-law wife and three young children were in the home at the time. Police sealed off the area and spent hours searching for Meeches, who was able to escape. He wasn't arrested until January 2009 and has been in custody since.
"I hope in the future he can forgive me for what I did. I'm sorry his family had to go through that, too," Meeches told court.
Crown attorney Brent Davidson said the victim had recently left the Indian Posse, which didn't sit well with senior members including Meeches. The man had been receiving several threats from other gangsters preceding the shooting.
"(The victim) felt that the brotherhood the organization was founded upon was disintegrating and that members were simply interested in exerting their power and controlling the drug trade," said Davidson. "He was basically told he better start coming around or there would be problems. He tried to stay out of sight, out of mind."
The victim was prepared for violence but only thought he was going to beaten by Meeches, court was told. Defence lawyer Kathy Bueti said Meeches was also planning to leave the Indian Posse once he "sent a message" by shooting the victim.
"He was taking instructions from another member of the gang," she said. "He didn't necessarily want to kill him... he knew a serious injury was possible."
Meeches was originally charged with attempted murder but the Crown agreed to drop it in exchange for a guilty plea to the lesser offence of discharging a firearm with intent to maim or wound. Davidson said the victim has moved out of the city with his family and had safety concerns about returning to testify.
Meeches has been a member of the Indian Posse since the age of 15 and has a lengthy criminal record, court was told.
He was given double-time credit for the 16 months he has spent in pre-trial custody.