A 17-year-old boy will spend at least seven years behind bars for killing a pizza restaurant employee with an axe in 2011.

The teen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Gerald Crayford and was sentenced as an adult last month.

On Tuesday, a Winnipeg judge said the teen would have to serve seven years in prison before he would be eligible for parole.

That time would have to be served at Stony Mountain Institution, the judge said, adding the teen will stay at Agassiz Youth Centre until he turns 18 later this fall.

The defence had sought parole eligibility after five years, saying the fact the youth pleaded guilty should be a mitigating factor.

His aboriginal heritage as well as his family history of alcohol addiction and abuse, should also be considered as mitigating factors, the lawyer told provincial court Judge Rocky Pollack.

The defence called the teen "a young man with a lot of challenges" but noted he made progress in an anger management program while in custody.

The Crown sought the maximum seven years served before the youth would be considered for parole, saying he "cannot be safely integrated into society within that [five-year] time period" being sought by the defence.

The teen still lacks an ability to control his anger, the Crown argued.

The teen, who was arrested shortly after the killing, has been in custody for more than 26 months. That will also be considered in his eligibility for parole.

Pollack said the teen’s rehabilitation was "still at the starting line."

The teen's identity cannot be released until the appeal period has expired.

History of violence

The teen, who was 15 at the time of the attack, has a history of violent offences, court was told at the sentencing in June.

That, and the boy's apparent lack of remorse for his actions, led to the decision to sentence him as an adult, Pollack said at the time.

Crayford, 54, was a delivery driver for Pizza Hotline when he was attacked during a robbery at the restaurant's Concordia Avenue location just after 2 a.m. on May 15, 2011.

According to court documents, including Pollack's sentencing decision in June, Crayford tried to take the axe away from the teen and sustained two blows to the head with the blunt end of the axe. He later died in hospital.

Following the attack, the accused and his 18-year-old accomplice took the restaurant's cash register and removed $2,000, about $675 of which went to the teen.

The boy later bragged about the robbery and the slaying of Crayford, and some family members and a friend helped him hide the axe, court documents state.

The accomplice has yet to go to trial.