Saturday, June 19, 2010
Man pleads guilty to killing two people in rooming house fire
A Winnipeg man pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of manslaughter and arson in connection with a rooming house fire that killed two residents.
Howard Mason, 50, was originally charged with second-degree murder. He was set to stand trial in September.
Mason admitted setting fire to an Elgin Avenue rooming house on Dec. 21, 2006, killing Lavina Bradburn and boyfriend Dan Vaillant
Another woman was sent to hospital in critical condition and three other people were inured.
Police spoke to Mason shortly after the fire but let him go. Mason turned himself in to police later that month.
Court heard no details about the crime Friday or any discussion of a motive.
Mason remains in custody and will return to court Sept. 30 for sentencing.
Defence lawyer Kathy Bueti said the adjournment will allow lawyers for both sides time to "gather material and reports" that will be helpful for sentencing.
"It's not likely there is going to be a joint recommendation in this case," Bueti said.
WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg man has admitted to killing two people and injuring four others by setting a rooming house on fire.
Howard Mason, 50, struck a deal with justice officials Friday to plead guilty to arson and manslaughter, which suggests his deadly actions were unintended. In exchange, the Crown dropped more serious charges of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
Mason is expected to be sentenced in September. Lawyers say they will likely not be making a joint-recommendation on how long Mason should spend behind bars.
Daniel Vaillant, 43, and his girlfriend, Lavina Bradburn, 41, died after their Elgin Avenue residence went up in flames on Dec. 21, 2006. Police needed to use dental records to identity their bodies, which were found on the second floor. Four other occupants were rescued from the home and rushed to hospital with various injuries
Mason was initially treated as a potential witness by police but became a suspect days later. He turned himself in on Christmas Day and has been in custody ever since. Mason didn’t live at the home and no motive for the fatal blaze has been made public. No other details of the case were presented in court Friday.
Vaillant and Bradburn had both faced numerous challenges in life but had found happiness together in the city, according to family members. Bradburn was survived by three adult children who were living in her home community of Oxford House, where she had previously worked as a cleaner and cook for the community’s elders. She had moved to Winnipeg to upgrade her education and volunteered at Main Street soup kitchens.
I would like to know more background information about Mason and other mitigating factors, before I can suggest a sentence.