Dad who killed daughter's boyfriend found guilty

A jury has found 54-year-old Kim Walker of Yorkton, Sask., guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his daughter's boyfriend eight years ago.
A police officer escorts a handcuffed Kim Walker off to jail after a jury pronounced him guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of 24-year-old James Hayward. (CBC)

A jury has found 54-year-old Kim Walker of Yorkton, Sask., guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his daughter's boyfriend eight years ago.

The 12 jurors could have found Walker guilty of second-degree murder, but opted for the less-serious charge. A second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no parole for at least 10 years, whereas manslaughter with a firearm is punished by a minimum of four years in prison and a maximum life sentence.  

Dan Hayward, brother of shooting victim James Hayward, says he's 'completely disgusted' with the jury's finding. ((CBC))

"I'm completely disgusted right now. I don't even know what to say," said Dan Hayward, brother of the shooting victim, 24-year-old James Hayward. "It just goes to show the gullibility of people and that you can trespass in a man's house and shoot him five times in front of everybody and it doesn't matter."

Walker, who had been free on bail during his trial, was remanded into custody and is to appear in court Friday for the start of his sentencing hearing.

His lawyer said he will ask for a sentence of time already served, since Walker already spent more than three years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree murder in his first trial in the case. That conviction was overturned last year.

The Crown said it will press the judge to keep Walker, a career welder, behind bars, arguing that he committed a very serious crime.

Nearly 24 hours of deliberations

The jury arrived at its verdict at the end of their third day of deliberations.

Earlier Thursday, the seven men and five women had reassembled in the courtroom to ask to review Walker's trial testimony.

Judge Ellen Gunn approved the request, but said they would have to listen to the entire recording of Walker's testimony, which lasted more than two hours.

Kim Walker's daughter Jadah Walker shouts at the family of her slain boyfriend on the courthouse steps after her father was found guilty. ((CBC))

Walker's daughter, Jadah Walker, saw the resulting verdict in a positive light.

"In this situation, this is not the worst-case scenario for us," she said. "There's a lot of fight left in us, and we're ready to go."

During the trial, which began May 9, Walker's lawyers argued he acted in self-defence when he shot James Hayward in 2003.

Hayward was Jadah Walker's boyfriend and the man her father blamed for getting her hooked on drugs.

The court heard that Jadah, who was 16 years old at the time, had moved in with Hayward and become addicted to morphine and other substances.

Walker went to Hayward's house in Yorkton, a city of about 15,000 people in southeast Saskatchewan, on March 17, 2003. He was armed with a pistol, and several eyewitnesses, including his daughter, identified him as the shooter.

Walker testified he experienced memory loss and can't remember the actual shooting, but said he recalled seeing Hayward coming at him with his fist raised just before it happened.

Ten bullets were fired, five of them striking Hayward, killing him almost instantly, court heard. The Crown said it was murder because Walker acted deliberately against the unarmed Hayward.

Second trial

Jadah Walker, now 24, attended the trial in support of her father, who she hoped would be acquitted. Also a constant presence at the proceedings was Hayward's mother, Lorrie Getty, who said she was confident the jury would find Kim Walker guilty of murder. The two families exchanged heated words outside the courthouse after the verdict was handed down Thursday afternoon.

This was Walker's second murder trial in Hayward's death. In his first trial, in 2007, he was convicted of second-degree, but the verdict was thrown out last June on appeal and a new trial ordered. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal said a "fatal error" had been made when certain discussions were held between lawyers and the judge without Walker being present.