James Rajbhandari found guilty of 2nd-degree murder

A Calgary jury has found James Rajbhandari guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 stabbing death of Wyatt Lewis at a house party.

Rajbhandari sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years

James Rajbhandari is escorted into the arrest processing unit by Calgary police homicide detectives in 2012. (CBC)

There were nods and smiles from Wyatt Lewis' family as the jury announced its guilty verdict in James Rajbhandari's second-degree murder trial.

The panel of 12 men and women deliberated for about nine hours before coming to its decision.

The 30-year-old who has no prior criminal record was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years based on a joint recommendation from Crown and defence. He didn't react as the verdict was read.

"My life partner was torn out of my life," Lewis' widow, Leigh, wrote in a victim impact statement that was read to the court after the verdict.

Wyatt Lewis, a father of four, was stabbed to death in September 2012 in what the prosecution says is a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Family photo)

She described feelings of sadness, anger and insecurity in the years since her husband's death. Her children also struggle and are in counselling. 

Lewis had been out with an old friend when they were invited to a party at an apartment building on 16th Avenue N.W in September 2012.

A fight broke out between a couple of the partygoers, so people were ordered out of the apartment, and Lewis was stabbed in the chaos of a mass exodus.

During the trial, the court heard that Rajbhandari had fresh cuts on his hands when police interviewed him and his blood was found on a knife that had been hidden on the apartment balcony.

Turn the page, move forward

Crown prosecutors Marta Juzwiac and Carolina Valenzuela say justice was done after the jury returned a guilty verdict in the James Rajbhandari trial. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

"We think that justice was done and we're relieved for the family especially," said prosecutor Marta Juzwiac. "I know that this was a really difficult trial for them."

About a dozen members of Lewis' family sat through the trial.

"I think I was literally holding my breath," said his brother James Carmichael. "It was very emotional, it was a big release of emotion."

Though he says he will be at future parole hearings, Carmichael says the next step for his family is clear.

"Turn the page, move forward."

Members of Wyatt Lewis' family including his widow Leigh and brother James Carmichael (on crutches) say the guilty verdict will help them move forward. (Meghan Grant/CBC)