Justin Bourque pleads guilty to murdering 3 Moncton Mounties
Moncton man also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder 2 other RCMP officers
Justin Christien Bourque has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the Mountie shootings in Moncton, N.B., in June.
He entered the pleas before Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice David Smith in Moncton on Friday, as his father, two of his sisters, and other supporters looked on.
Bourque, who looked scruffy, with long hair and an unkempt beard, showed no emotion as he sat in the prisoner's box, flanked by sheriff's officers, his hands and feet in cuffs.
The judge asked the 24-year-old from Moncton if he understood what he was pleading guilty to, and Bourque replied, "yes."
Smith then asked Bourque if he was voluntarily pleading guilty and he again replied, "yes."
Smith said by pleading guilty, Bourque was admitting to having intended to kill the officers and his actions were planned and deliberate.
He advised Bourque he could be facing consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole for 75 years for the three first-degree murder charges.
A sentencing hearing will be held on Oct. 27. A pre-sentence report and victim impact statements will be presented to the court at that time.
Bourque will remain in custody.
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RCMP Cpl. David Falls, a media relations officer in Ottawa, declined to comment, saying it would be "inappropriate" until after he is sentenced.
The Crown prosecutors and veteran defence lawyer David Lutz have also declined to comment.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc told CBC's News Network he is "relieved" Bourque pleaded guilty, which will spare the families of the victims and RCMP members from a lengthy trial.
"It's been a terrible tragedy for the families and has been very, very difficult for all members of the RCMP," he said. "I think that our first thoughts have to be with [them]."
There has also been a "tremendous sense of loss and grief in the community," said LeBlanc.
The community has been able to pull together and, I think, shown that we really do stand by, and stand side by side with the members of the RCMP and the brave men and women who look after us.- Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc
"At the same time, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support and compassion and love," he said.
"The community has been able to pull together and, I think, shown that we really do stand by, and stand side by side with the members of the RCMP and the brave men and women who look after us."
LeBlanc said he will be happy to see Bourque's sentencing completed, but he expects it will take a long time before the community can heal.
Bourque's lawyer had requested a publication ban during Friday's proceedings and the Crown prosecutors and judge agreed.
The ban was lifted once court adjourned.
Last week, Bourque was deemed fit to stand trial and elected to be tried by a judge and jury. He waived his right to a preliminary inquiry.
A trial date was expected to be set on Friday, but in a surprising turn of events, Bourque entered guilty pleas.
Lutz requested a publication ban on the contents of the report, which included a videotaped interview with Bourque.
Provincial court Judge Irwin Lampert said the report could be prejudicial to Bourque's defence and his right to a fair trial.
Bourque was arrested just after midnight on June 6, following a two-day manhunt that involved hundreds of police officers from across the country and caused a lockdown of much of the city of Moncton.
He has been in custody since his arrest.
Up until 2011, the longest sentence for murder was life imprisonment, but with a chance of parole after 25 years, regardless of the number of victims.
Convicted multiple murderers served their life sentences concurrently, meaning they were subject to only one parole ineligibility period.
But under the federal Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act, passed on Dec. 2, 2011, judges may now impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods for those convicted of more than one first-degree or second-degree murder.
The RCMP officers who were killed on June 4 were:
- Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John.
- Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que.
- Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally from Boulogne-Billancourt, France.
The RCMP officers who were wounded on June 4 were:
- Const. Éric Stéphane J. Dubois.
- Const. Marie Darlene Goguen.