A Charlottetown man who shot and killed his brother in January 2011 was found guilty Tuesday of manslaughter.
Dylan Dingwell was charged with second-degree murder, but Justice John Mitchell of the P.E.I. Supreme Court found him guilty of the lesser charge.
Dingwell never denied shooting his brother, Kyle Dingwell, on Jan. 17 but said it was in self-defence. His lawyer, Joel Pink, argued Kyle was a violent drug abuser and on the morning of the shooting was agitated, argumentative and out of control.
Crown attorney Cindy Wedge called the defence version of events ludicrous.
Wedge noted there were several things Dylan Dingwell did not mention to investigators that were part of his court testimony, including that:
- Kyle had attacked Dylan with bear spray in the past.
- Kyle had threatened to spray Dylan's son that morning.
- Kyle was looking for Dylan's gun and came at him with bear spray.
The Crown also argued the evidence showed that the second fatal shot hit Kyle as he was turning to go back into the house.
Acted in a heat of passion
The judge ruled the case wasn't self-defence because there was no evidence Dylan was afraid of being killed at the moment he shot his older brother.
Mitchell said although Kyle was undoubtedly violent and aggressive toward Dylan, he had never threatened to kill him.
The judge did accept Dylan's version of events on that day — that in the moments before the shooting, he was trying to hide his gun in the car and that Kyle then came running out of the house pointing bear spray at Dylan.
But Mitchell said the evidence suggests Dylan didn't have to shoot Kyle to protect himself.
"He did not shoot his brother as his brother was rushing toward him," said Mitchell. "He shot his brother when his brother began to retreat."
Still, the judge said Dylan didn't intend to kill his older brother. He acted suddenly in a heat of passion, spurred on by his brother in the minutes before the shooting, said Mitchell.
Kyle had bullied and beaten Dylan in front of Dylan's three-year-old son, the court had heard during the trial. Mitchell said that act left Dylan angry and deprived of self control.
Dylan is scheduled to be sentenced on April 20.
Defence lawyer Joel Pink said he still needs to take the time to read all of Mitchell's decision, but he likely won't appeal.
The reduced manslaughter conviction will likely mean much less time behind bars, said Pink, noting the usual range for manslaughter is between two and eight years.
"I've spoken to my client, I've spoken to my client's mother, and they are happy with that result," said Pink. "If he had been convicted of second-degree murder, he would've been sentenced to life imprisonment, no eligibility for parole for at least 10 years."
The crown has not decided yet whether to appeal the judge's decision.