Calgary gang member pleads guilty in 2009 triple murder
Michael Roberto agrees to plea bargain, will be Crown witness
One of the men granted a new trial for his role in the fatal 2009 shootings at a restaurant in southeast Calgary has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.
Two rival gang members, Sanjeev Mann and Aaron Bendle, were shot and killed in the restaurant. Keni S'ua, a bystander, was shot dead in the parking lot of the Vietnamese restaurant.
Michael Roberto pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of committing offences of murder for the benefit of or in association with a criminal organization, conspiring to commit murder and discharging a firearm.
In an agreed statement of facts, Roberto said he shot a rival gang member, but did not shoot S'ua.
Roberto was sentenced to 16 years and gets double credit for the time he's already served.
In return, he will receive partial immunity and he will testify as a witness for the Crown in multiple upcoming murder trials.
Prosecutor Brian Holtby said it's far from ideal, but the bargain is mutually beneficial.
"The benefit to us is he admitted this and we know the truth," Holtby said.
Roberto was previously convicted of three counts of murder in the Bolsa shootings, as was his associate Nathan Zuccherato, who was convicted during the same trial.
The Alberta Court of Appeal overturned Roberto and Zuccherato's conviction earlier this year after a confession from the Crown's star witness surfaced and ordered a new trial.
- Surprise confession emerges in Bolsa triple murder trial
- Court grants new trials for men convicted in triple murder
Real Honorio was also convicted of first-degree murder in the incident in a separate trial. His appeal is pending.
Roberto apologized in court to the families who lost loved ones because of his actions.
"He renounced his role in the gang culture, decided to try to make amends to get his life back on track," said defence lawyer Paul Stern.
Roberto will need extra protection in prison because of his co-operation, Stern added.
- An earlier version of this story said that Roberto had been sentenced to eight years. In fact, he received a 16-year sentence and will receive credit for time served.Jul 25, 2013 9:40 PM MT