Manitoba

'Now Bryer can rest': Jury convicts man of 2nd-degree murder in 2017 'meth house' shooting death

A jury has found a Winnipeg man guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee, who was shot twice in the chest at a North End home and turned up dead in the snow blocks away.

Christopher Brass found guilty of shooting Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee in home on Powers Avenue in Winnipeg

Christopher Brass has been found guilty in the death of Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service)

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  • Christopher Brass found guilty of second-degree murder. He will be sentenced at a later date.
  • Prysiazniuk-Settee's family calls the verdict 'a relief' that shows 'justice has been served'

A jury has found a Winnipeg man guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee, who was shot twice in the chest at a North End home and turned up dead in the snow blocks away.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated all afternoon and into the evening Tuesday before finding Christopher Brass guilty.

Prior to that, at around noon, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vic Toews instructed jurors to use "common sense" and impartially consider all the facts and witness testimony they've heard throughout the course of the trial for Christopher Brass, which began Oct. 15.

"Punishment has no place in your discussions," Toews said. "Your duty is to consider all the evidence."

Brass pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge stemming from the Feb. 8, 2017, shooting death of Prysiazniuk-Settee.

The 24-year-old was hit in the chest with two of six bullets that came from a handgun witnesses say Brass reached down and drew from near his ankle, and fired from within a known Powers Avenue "meth house."

Prysiazniuk-Settee took off and was found dead in the snow a few blocks away on Aberdeen Avenue.

Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee was found shot, lying in the snow on Aberdeen Avenue, in 2017. (Facebook)

Brass gave no visible reaction when the verdict was read out. Members of Prysiazniuk-Settee's family quietly sobbed as they sat in the courtroom.

"To me, it actually means justice has been served, 'cause I really didn't have any hope in the justice system here. But today they served their purpose," said his mother, Gina Settee.

The death of her son and the ensuing trial has torn the family apart "piece by piece," she said, but she hopes this verdict can help bring them back together.

"It was such a relief, and you know, I thank God. I prayed for this, and now Bryer can rest," said Joyce Nagy, Settee's mother and Prysiazniuk-Settee's grandmother.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence with no eligibility for parole between 10 and 25 years. Jury members recommended sentences of parole ineligibility between 12 and 20 years.

The Crown and defence will make their sentencing recommendations on Friday.

Differing testimony

Winnipeg police Det. Parampreet Sahota walked jurors through surveillance videos from a convenience store, a cab and a hotel lobby. He identified Brass, the man's then-girlfriend, Kara Hall, and two of their friends — Kim Moneyas and another man who can't be named due to a publication ban.

Hall and the two friends testified during the trial.

The man said Brass and Prysiazniuk-Settee got into an argument at the Powers house seven to 10 days before the shooting.

The morning of the shooting, Moneyas said Prysiazniuk-Settee arrived to purchase meth and then came inside, where he got high with her and Hall.

A toxicology report showed no signs of meth in Prysiazniuk-Settee's body, court heard.

Moneyas also testified there was just one bullet hole left in the door of the home, though the other friend, who can't be identified, said there were four and police independently confirmed that, Crown attorney Geoff Bayly said Monday during closing arguments.

Defence lawyers Tara Walker and Jodi Myskiw argued Brass acted in self-defence and had reason to believe Prysiazniuk-Settee posed a credible threat.

He wasn't acting in self-defence.… This case is that straightforward.- Crown attorney  Geoff Bayly

Hall testified she and Moneyas did meth before Prysiazniuk-Settee arrived, and not with him, as Moneyas recalled.

Brass was sleeping when Prysiazniuk-Settee showed up to buy meth and proceeded to say to a sleeping Brass, "There's that motherf--ker right there. I should slit his throat in his sleep."

Hall said said she was concerned something violent might happen and woke Brass up, who she says then fired more than one shot at Prysiazniuk-Settee. Hall said it wasn't clear whether any bullets hit him.

She agreed it is common for people involved in drug trade to carry weapons, and Walker argued Brass therefore had a basis for thinking things could escalate and he tried to protect himself.  

'Mountains of evidence'

Bayly and Crown co-counsel Minh Nguyen said there was no evidence to suggest Prysiazniuk-Settee was armed.

"He wasn't acting in self-defence," Bayly said Monday during closing arguments, adding Brass intended to kill or seriously injure Prysiazniuk-Settee. "This case is that straightforward."

There is "mountains and mountains of evidence" showing Brass should be convicted of second-degree murder, the Crown attorney said.

Along with witnesses, Bayly referred to the three surveillance videos shown to jurors early at the trial where a man he and police say is Brass "appears sober and does not appear, from all outward appearances, to be upset, emotional or in any way agitated," after the shooting.

Det. Sahota said the footage shows Brass in a nearby convenience store after the shooting, then inside a Duffy's Taxi that dropped him and the others off at the Marlborough Hotel, which video from the hotel lobby camera system corroborated.

The cab driver testified he had no concerns anyone in the vehicle was intoxicated.

'Lit up'

Court heard the man who can't be identified slept through the shooting despite being in the same room as the gunfire.

He testified that, about one week before the shooting, Prysiazniuk-Settee and Brass got into an argument about gang affiliation. Brass slammed Prysiazniuk-Settee against the wall, the latter apologized, and the pair then smoked meth together, the witness said.

The man also said Brass later told him at the hotel that he shot Prysiazniuk-Settee.

"He was never shaken on the fact that Brass admitted to him that he 'lit up' Bryer," said Bayly.

"He was never contradicted on evidence that Brass recognized Bryer as the 'little f--ker' from the week prior. He was never contradicted on the fact that Brass [told him] to look for evidence."

Meanwhile, Walker told jurors Monday not to "get caught up on the words 'he lit him up.'"

"It's just the way people talk," she said. "The threat of force is imminent."

Jurors are deliberating over whether the man charged with fatally shooting Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee​ acted in self-defence when he pulled out a small silver handgun and fired up to six shots in Prysiazniuk-Settee's direction. 1:43

With files from Jillian Taylor

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

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Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, social justice, health and more. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.