A judge found Adam Michael Brown and Alexander Reid guilty Friday of second-degree murder in the slaying of Mohamed Ibrahim, 24, outside the River Cree Casino west of Edmonton two years ago.
The guilty decision was met with audible relief from Ibrahim's mother, Fouzia Mohamed, and members of Edmonton's Somali community who surrounded her in the courtroom.
"Very, very pleased," Mohamed told reporters outside the courthouse. "I'm waiting for that word two years, two months, 26 days."
Brown and Reid gunned down Ibrahim on Aug. 10, 2008. He was shot by bullets from two different handguns.
The Crown argued the shooting was payback for a fight that broke out between the two accused and a group of Somalis celebrating a birthday in a lounge at the casino.
The trial was marred by witnesses failing to show up and others changing their testimony. Some witnesses said their lives were threatened prior to testifying.
Witness statements more credible
Getting witnesses to testify was difficult, admitted Crown prosecutor Ashley Findlayson.
The shaky testimony left the Crown unable to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, argued the defence.
But Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Belzil said he gave more credence to witness statements given to police after the murder than he did to courtroom testimony.
The judge also relied on photographs taken prior to the shooting that put Reid and Brown in the club that night and identified what they were wearing.
Surveillance video caught the fight in the bar earlier that night and showed Ibrahim and others punching Brown and Reid. That gave the pair the motive to kill Ibrahim — retaliation, said Belzil.
Ibrahim’s is the first case in a string of killings of young Somali men in Edmonton to go to trial.
The decision was awaited anxiously by members of Edmonton's Somali community.
"This is for the rest of the parents who have their kids in the homicide case also — believe in the justice system," said Abdul Hussein, a member of Ibrahim's family. "The system works."
Brown and Reid were also convicted of assault with a weapon in the shooting of Munira Omar, who was struck in the hip with a stray bullet the night of the Ibrahim's murder.
Sentencing for the two men will take place on Dec. 13.