Edmonton

Mac's store murderer will spend at least 25 years in prison

Colton Steinhauer was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for murdering and robbing two Mac's store clerks.

‘He would have no chance of a life outside prison if he was given 50 years,’ judge says

Colton Steinhauer will have to spend 25 years in prison before he can apply for parole. (Facebook)

Colton Steinhauer was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for murdering and robbing two Mac's store clerks. 

A jury found Steinhauer guilty in May on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery. 

The victims, Karanpal Bhangu and Ricky Cenabre, were shot to death during a robbery spree in the early hours of Dec. 18, 2015. They were working overnight shifts alone at two south-side Mac's stores.

Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice Ken Nielsen described the murders as horrendous. 

"The murders of both Mr. Bhangu and Mr. Cenabre were absolutely gratuitous and senseless," Nielsen said. "These two immigrant gentlemen were simply trying to make a living to support their families." 

The judge offered his sympathy to three members of the Cenabre family who were present in the courtroom. 

"Nothing I do in sentencing Mr. Steinhauer will change the events of December 18th," he said, noting that since this is the last of three trials, he hopes the family can move forward. 

Mary Puerto, left, and sister Faith Alcazaren, are both nieces of homicide victim Ricky Cenabre (Sam Martin/CBC )

Outside court, Ricky Cenabre's niece, Mary Puerto said she was disappointed. 

"I was actually hoping for 50 years," Puerto said. "We were all hoping it would be consecutive, because it was obviously planned."

Steinhauer's co-accused, Laylin Delorme, is already serving a sentence identical to the one handed down Friday. A 13-year old relative of Delorme's has already completed a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter. 

The Crown asked the judge to impose consecutive sentences, meaning Steinhauer would have served 50 years before being eligible to apply for parole. 

Nielsen said a major consideration was the sentence given to Delorme, calling it a matter of "logic and fairness" that co-accused should receive similar sentences. 

The judge said he was also concerned about Steinhauer's conduct in custody if he was given consecutive sentences. 

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

 "Fifty years would remove all hope for Mr. Steinhauer," Nielsen said. "He would have no chance of a life outside prison if he was given 50 years."  

The judge expressed his confidence in the parole system to make the right decision a quarter century from now. 

"I do not have a crystal ball to predict Mr. Steinhauer's behaviour in the next 25 years," Nielsen said. "There is no guarantee he'll be released into the community at the 25-year point, or ever."

About the Author

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

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