Calgary

New Year's Day killers sentenced to life in prison

Two men involved in the 2009 New Year's Day shootings were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years Tuesday morning in a Calgary court.

Calgary judge warns gangs: 'The violence must stop and stop now'

Michael Roberto, 27, and Nathan Zuccherato, 25, were each found guilty Monday night on three counts of first-degree murder. They were sentenced to 25 years with no parole. (CBC)

Two men involved in the 2009 New Year’s Day shootings were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years Tuesday morning in a Calgary court.

Nathan Zuccherato and Michael Roberto were found guilty on three counts each of first-degree murder for their roles in a triple slaying on New Year's Day 2009.

Gang member Sanjeev Mann, gang associate Aaron Bendle and bystander Keni Su'a were gunned down in a rival-gang revenge plot at Bolsa Vietnamese Restaurant in Calgary's southeast.

The exchange was part of an escalating, violent feud between the gangs Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) and FOB Killers (FK).

During the sentencing Court of Queen's Bench Justice Earl Wilson had harsh words for all Calgary gangs.

"The evidence is clear that the FOBs and FK members have no real idea why it came to this. The years of homicides occurred and reoccurred, but the reason how and why there is such violent animosity has been lost in the mists of time. Families of victims, families of accused are left to mourn all they lost," said Wilson.

As Wilson read the sentence Zuccherato, 25, sat still while Roberto, 27, buried his head in his hands.

"The violence must stop and stop now," said Wilson. "There’s been too much blood spilled, too much pain caused, too much suffering and dirt. Let it end here."

'Overwhelmed with grief'

Sanjeev Mann, 22, Aaron Bendle,21, and Keni Su'a, 43, were shot and killed in a revenge gang plot January 1, 2009. (CBC)

The families of the dead presented their victim impact statements before the sentence was read.

Su’a and his ex-wife Lenni Su’a remained close after the pair ended their 11-year marriage. Lenni said she was shocked to hear Keni, 43, had died, especially in such a violent way.

Lenni said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, lost her home and dropped out of school.  

"I felt numb for days on end and completely overwhelmed with grief. I blamed myself at times even though I knew that there is nothing I could have done. It was agony for me to think this was real and I just couldn’t understand why he was targeted the way he was."

The Manns said that losing Sanjeev, 22, devastated their entire family, and they’ll mourn "every day for the rest of our lives."

"All we can hope is that this vicious cycle or violence comes to an end…These accused have not only destroyed our families, but have destroyed their own as well."

Eroca Bendle pointed to the senselessness of the kidnap and murder of her son, Aaron.

Bendle recalled how supportive Aaron, 21, was after his father Doug suffered a brain injury.

"Aaron was often heard saying he would never leave his father. My finest caregiver supporter, who truly loved us, is gone. There is a gap in my soul."

Real Honorio and Nicholas Hovanesian have also been charged with the deaths and will appear in court separately.

"It's a significant blow to the FK, FOB and we've got more trials ahead but it was a good start," Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said after the verdict was read Monday night.

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