Adam Michael Brown and Alexander Reid were sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years for the second-degree murder of Somali-Canadian Mohamed Ibrahim, 24, outside the River Cree Casino west of Edmonton two years ago.
Brown and Reid fatally shot Ibrahim on Aug. 10, 2008, after a fight between the pair and a group of Somalis celebrating a birthday in a lounge at the casino.
Two dozen members of the Somali community filled the courtroom for the sentencing, which Brown and Reid attended dressed in blue prison clothing.
"I am happy today," said Mohamed's mother, Fouzia Mohamed. "I know my son is gone. I know he's not coming back, but at least I feel I've saved another mother's."
"It was our day," said community leader Abdul Hussein. "We've waited for this for 2½ years. We're proud of the judge and the sentences given."
The Crown had asked for a life sentence with no chance of parole for 15 to 20 years.
"Mr. Ibrahim did not know what hit him," prosecutor Ashley Findlayson said after the sentencing. "He was defenceless and taken by surprise. It was a brutal and callous shooting."
Earlier in court Findlayson acknowledged that neither killer had a criminal record, but questioned why both had handguns in their possession.
The shooting also put other lives at risk, Findlayson said. One bullet hit a woman nearby in the hip.
Defence lawyers had asked the two be eligible for parole after only 12 years.
Reid has a common-law wife and a baby, said his lawyer D'Arcy DePoe. "Don't deliver a crushing blow to a young man," he said.
When Justice Paul Belzil asked Brown and Reid if they wished to address the court, Reid declined.
Brown, however, stood to say he believed his conviction was politically motivated.
"We're basically hung for this," he said. "I maintain my innocence."
The case was the first to go to trial after a string of young Somali men were killed in the Edmonton area. The killings of so many young Somalis have received media coverage across the country.
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.