Justin Bourque, Moncton Mountie killer, says 'I am sorry'
Bourque committed 'one of the most heinous crimes in Canadian history,' Crown prosecutor says
Speaking through tears, Justin Bourque apologized in a Moncton, N.B., courtroom Tuesday morning during his sentencing hearing for killing three RCMP officers and wounding two others.
Bourque is being sentenced for three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
He previously pleaded guilty to shooting five RCMP officers on June 4, when he wandered through a north end neighbourhood of the city, dressed in camouflage and carrying a high-powered weapon.
Transcript of Justin Bourque's statement
Been thinking about it a lot, and the families here.
Hearing and seeing me on video, talk like some arrogant pissant as if this was nothing to me.
I want families to know your husbands', sons', brothers' and friends' death, it does mean something to me.
Everything I said was hatred.
Feeling sorry for myself.
Arrogance.… two to three days later, there's nothing good. [referring to a time after the incident].
No, nothing to be proud of.
I'm not a soldier.
I took the easy way out.
I did nothing good, nothing to be proud of.
And you have to live with this for the rest of my life.
Apology almost useless.
But I am, sorry.
I can't say more than that.
The killer briefly addressed the Moncton courtroom on Tuesday after listening to the Crown prosecutor and his defence lawyer argue over how long he should spend in prison.
Bourque, 24, said he took the "easy way out," and the killings are something, "I'm going to have to live with the rest of my life.
"I am sorry. There's nothing else to say," Bourque said.
With that, the court recessed until 2 p.m. AT Friday, when Bourque will learn his fate.
Bourque's comments and demeanour stood in stark contrast to the video statement he gave to police after his arrest on June 6, which was played for the courtroom on Monday.
In the video, Bourque sat calmly in his chair at the Sackville detachment and bragged to the RCMP about his tactical skills and how he would have taken down more officers if he'd had the opportunity.
But there was no sign of that bravado and confidence as he sat hunched in the prisoner's box, his voice trembling through his speech.
Bourque said he had been thinking about his own family and the families of the slain officers having to see him on that police video and how hurtful that would have been.
He said he regretted his arrogance.
Targeted police to start a rebellion
Crown prosecutor Cameron Gunn argued on Tuesday that Bourque committed "one of the most heinous crimes in Canadian history" and should be sent to prison for 75 years without a chance for parole.
The Crown prosecutor said the court had to hand down a stiff penalty to "denounce these crimes," and that denunciation must be paramount over rehabilitation.
Gunn said Bourque had a twisted view of society and targeted police to start a rebellion, but failed.
The Crown also said in court Tuesday that the attempted murders are no less important when deciding on the sentence.
Up until 2011, the maximum sentence a multiple killer could be given in Canada was life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
The Crown said a sentence of 25 years would be “wholly inappropriate.”
Further, the Crown prosecutor said there is very little case history to rely on in the Bourque sentencing, because the law changed in 2011.
The prosecutor referred to the Travis Baumgartner case in which Baumgartner got 40 years with no chance for parole in 2013 after the former armoured guard shot four co-workers, killing three of them.
Thought process 'extremely defective'
David Lutz, Bourque's defence lawyer, said that while his client did not come across as a sympathetic character in his video statement to police or in his pre-sentence report, he has shown remorse. Lutz said Bourque's first words to him were, "I am pleading guilty."
Bourque realizes his thought process was "extremely defective," said Lutz, suggesting his client's home schooling led to social difficulties and that he was easily influenced by the rantings he read online about hatred toward authority for trying to take away guns.
Lutz said Bourque knows his "life is over" for all intents and purposes.
Still, he would like the chance to apply for parole after 50 years, at age 74 instead of 99, he said.
"I say anything other than 50 years is academic. He won't be eligible for parole at 99 years because he will be dead [by then]," Lutz said in court.
He urged Chief Justice David Smith to look at the case dispassionately.
Gas stations initial target
The Crown finished its presentation to the court just before 10 a.m. AT.
While the Crown took more than a day to lay out its sentencing argument, Bourque's defence lawyer spent very little time.
Lutz said his client agreed with the majority of the facts presented by the Crown.
But the defence lawyer said Bourque disputed that his client had told a co-worker, “I’m going to pop a couple” of police officers.
Lutz said Bourque first intended to set gas stations on fire. The Crown said it's not choosing to prove that comment was an aggravating factor.
Bourque was in court throughout the hearing, wearing a grey sweatsuit. He had his ankles and wrists shackled. His face showed little emotion.
On Tuesday morning, the courtroom heard about the arsenal that Bourque carried with him during his shooting spree.
The RCMP recovered two firearms, an M305 .308 rifle and Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, as well as a gas mask, a pair of binoculars, two knives and survival harness.
The rifle was purchased legally from Better Buy Sports in Moncton using a valid firearm possession and acquisition licence.
The Crown also detailed the wounds suffered by the RCMP officers and the times of death for the three slain policemen.
'Another step in our healing process'
The widows of the three slain officers issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon, after sitting through the sentencing hearing together and supporting each other.
Nadine Larche, Rachael Ross, and Angela Gevaudan described the court proceedings as "another step in [their] healing process."
The court proceedings over the past day and a half have provided us with a clear picture of the events that took place on June 4, 2014, and showed to us the incredible amount of work done by the RCMP and other police services on that day and the days since.—Statement by widows Nadine Larche, Rachael Ross, and Angela Gevaudan
They say they now have a better understanding of what took place during the June 4 shooting and the "incredible amount of work" done by the RCMP, other police services, firefighters, paramedics, dispatchers and people from the community — not only on that day, but in the days since.
"We are truly grateful for everything you've done," the women said in the statement.
They also offered condolences to the families of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, the two soldiers killed last week in separate attacks.
Cirillo, 24, was gunned down while standing guard at the National War Monument in Ottawa on Oct. 22. Vincent, 53, was targeted in a hit and run in the parking lot of a commercial plaza in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Oct. 20.
"We all share the same grief, that of losing a loved one," the widows of the Moncton Mounties said.
Victim impact statements
On Monday, the packed courtroom heard 10 emotional victim impact statements, 911 calls from the night of the shootings and the approximately 3½-hour video statement Bourque gave to police shortly after his arrest on June 6.
During the statement, Bourque rambles about everything from evolution and socialism to events overseas.
He also brags about his "good moral compass," his tactical skills and how he felt "accomplished" following the shootings.
At the end of the video, however, Bourque asked if the officers who were killed were married and was told they all had children.
He later wrote a note to the families of Const. Doug Larche, Const. Dave Ross and Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, saying he wasn't asking for forgiveness, but that he apologizes.
Some people in the packed courtroom, including some of the relatives of the victims and other RCMP officers, shook their heads and wiped away tears.