Killer faces up to 50 years in prison for Mac's store shootings

An Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench justice is expected to decide Tuesday whether double murderer Laylin Delorme will spend 25 or 50 years behind bars before he can apply for parole.

Crown urges tough sentence for shootings that were ‘cold blooded in the extreme’

Laylin Delorme, 27, faces the possibility of staying behind bars for the next 50 years. (Instagram)

An Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench justice is expected to decide Tuesday whether double murderer Laylin Delorme will spend 25 or 50 years behind bars before he can apply for parole.

Six months ago, an Edmonton jury found Delorme, 27, guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Mac's convenience store workers Karanpal Bhangu and Ricky Cenabre.

Each first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence, with no chance of parole for 25 years. The only discretion left to the judge is whether to make those sentences consecutive or concurrent.

When the jury delivered its verdict, two jurors recommended imposing a 50-year parole ineligibility period, and three recommended 25 years. The remaining seven jurors chose not to make any recommendation.

On Monday, Crown prosecutor John Watson urged the judge to impose the longest period of parole ineligibility possible. He noted Bhangu and Cenabre were vulnerable victims, working alone on overnight shifts.

"The robbery was done," Watson said. "There was no need to shoot the clerks. They offered no resistance. So why kill them? Is it for the thrill of the kill? That's what it appears to be. Cold blooded in the extreme."

Karanpal Bhangu, 35, and Ricky Cenabre, 41, were shot and killed in a pair of Mac's store robberies on Dec. 18, 2015.

Watson also noted that both clerks were beaten and pistol whipped before they were shot.  

'He's not accepting responsibility for what he's done': Crown

In preparation for the sentencing hearing, the court ordered a Gladue Report to provide insight into Delorme's personal background as an Indigenous offender.

"I feel I was wrongly convicted, Delorme told the report's author during an interview. "I was up for multiple nights and I was drugged out. I consumed both prescription pills and alcohol and I was not in my right mind. I do not remember too much about the incident or what happened that night."

During the interview, Delorme expressed some regret for his actions.

"I am remorseful for what happened," Delorme told the interviewer. "I did not intend to rob anyone that night ... I did not mean to harm anyone."

Defence lawyer Naeem Rauf said his client plans to appeal the conviction.

Delorme admitted he's frightened and depressed by the prospect of spending 25 or 50 years behind bars.

"I am sad and afraid, and I am hoping that the appeal will change what is happening to me," Delorme said.

In court on Monday, he said he hoped some day the victims' families will forgive him.

"I'm sorry for everything," he said, reading from a prepared statement. "It breaks my heart that nothing will make it better."

He also asked Justice Robert Graesser to "show mercy" in sentencing.

Rauf pointed to his client's difficult childhood that included exposure to domestic violence, drinking and drug use. He was sexually assaulted at a young age.

"No wonder he turned to alcohol and drugs with that kind of a background," Rauf said.

Delorme admitted he is an alcoholic and a drug addict who used crystal meth as recently as two weeks ago, even while in custody.

Rauf urged the judge to impose the shortest period of parole ineligibility possible.

"Twenty-five years is a sufficiently cruel punishment, but 50 years ... is simply beyond the pale," Rauf said.

'Our family is forever broken'

The judge heard victim impact statements from Cenabre's wife, son and niece, who were all present in court Monday. Bhangu's family was not in court. The judge was told they have decided they want to put the murder behind them.

Cenabre's family wrote about their profound sense of loss, grief and anger.

Editha Alcazaren, widow of murder victim Ricky Cenabre shows her grief outside the Edmonton courthouse in October. (Sam Martin/CBC News )

"Compassion is a word used by the defendants," Faith Alcazaren wrote. "And I ask myself how much compassion did they have when they pulled the trigger and murdered my defenceless uncle ... while he was kneeling. His life was like nothing to them.

"Our family is forever broken. We are emotionally broken. We are devastated."

John Cedric Cenabre, 18, said he has nightmares, trouble sleeping and fears of a future without his father.

"I am praying that the offender will be sentenced long enough or if possible for a lifetime for what they have done to my father," he wrote.

The judge reserved his sentencing decision until Tuesday at 11 a.m.


Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston