2 found guilty in Regina stabbing death

A Regina Queen's Bench jury has convicted two men in the 2008 stabbing death of Albert Lowenberger.
The two accused in the case, Ashton Lavalee (on the left) and Ronald Zerr, were led away from court Monday night following the first night of jury deliberations. (CBC)

Tears flowed in a Regina courtroom Wednesday as a Queen's Bench jury convicted two men in the 2008 stabbing death of Albert Lowenberger.

On Wednesday, Ronald Zerr and Ashton Lavallee were both found guilty of manslaughter.

They were charged in connection with the death of Lowenberger outside a north Regina bar, the King's Head Tavern.

While Zerr had been on trial for second-degree murder, the jury acquitted him of that charge, but found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Lavallee had been on trial for manslaughter.

The eight-woman, four-man jury spent part of Monday and all day Tuesday deliberating but failed to come to a decision. They were about two hours into deliberations Wednesday when court was told they had reached a verdict.

The two men showed little reaction as the guilty verdicts were read in court. Family members of both the victim and the accused wept throughout the proceedings,

Lowenberger's oldest brother Theo said he was disappointed the murder charge resulted in a manslaughter conviction.

"It's unbelievable ... can't believe what happened," he said. "It's ridiculous how the whole thing played out."

During the trial, the jury heard some witnesses say that Lowenberger was the victim of an unprovoked attack, although the two men testified they were defending themselves and that Lowenberger and his group started the fight.

Court heard Lowenberger died of a stab wound to the heart delivered by Zerr.

Next for Zerr and Lavallee will be sentencing, which is set for Dec. 18.

While murder comes with an automatic life-sentence, manslaughter does not — a wide range of sentences are possible. 

The Crown says it will ask for 12-year sentences, while one of the defence lawyers said an eight-year term would be more appropriate. The defence is also looking at the possibility of an appeal.

In addition to manslaughter, Lavallee and Zerr were found guilty of one count of aggravated assault against Lowenberger's twin brother Robert, but not guilty of aggravated assault against the third man involved in the fight.

Zerr's lawyer Bob Hrycan had problems with that verdict.

"How the jury could find that the injuries were proven with respect to one individual but not proven with respect to the another?" He said to reporters. "On its face, it makes no sense."

Lavallee was left confused by the verdicts, his lawyer Jeff Deagle said.

"He kept asking 'Why?' and he can't understand what's going on today," Deagle said.