'Safety is a concern' says mayor of plan to sentence La Loche shooter inside community

Janet McIvor, the provincial court judge who will decide whether the La Loche shooter should be sentenced as a youth or adult, says she plans to sentence the killer in the same small northern Saskatchewan community where he carried out his crimes.

Mayor says La Loche residents should have a say in whether sentencing happens inside community

La Loche mayor Robert St. Pierre says people in La Loche are mixed about the prospect of hearing the La Loche shooter sentenced in the community itself. (CBC News)

Janet McIvor, the provincial court judge who will decide whether the La Loche shooter should be sentenced as a youth or adult, made a big announcement Friday during the shooter's ongoing sentencing hearing. 

She said she plans to sentence the killer in La Loche, the same small Northern Saskatchewan community of 2,300 people where the teen shot four people to death in 2016. 

McIvor's announcement, coming on the heels of an emotionally taxing statement from the shooter himself, immediately touched off concerns about how ready the community is to host such a weighty decision.

"Safety is a concern," said La Loche mayor Robert St. Pierre outside the courtroom in Meadow Lake, where all of the sentencing hearing so far has taken place. 

"We still have a lot of people that are going through this process and going through emotions who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by this tragedy. So how they react — I don't know."

People mixed about idea: mayor 

St. Pierre says he approached McIvor to see if the community can have a say in whether it does in fact host the sentencing, and that he plans to gather feedback and relay it to the judge.

The opinions he's canvassed so far are mixed. 

"A lot of people have said they'd like to have it in La Loche for some closure, and some have expressed they would rather not have it in La Loche because it wil dredge up bad memories and bad emotions."

Final arguments set for Aug. 25

Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang noted that the judge's decision is "not written in stone" but voiced no objection to holding the sentencing in La Loche. 

"I do think it`s a good idea to have at least part of this hearing in La Loche," he said.

Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang said it's a good idea to have at least part of the sentencing hearing in La Loche. All of it has taken place in Meadow Lake so far. (CBC News)

The next phase of the process — the final arguments from both the Crown and defence — will unfold on Aug. 25 in Meadow Lake, which is more than 300 kilometres south of La Loche. 

No date has been set yet for the sentencing. 

On Jan, 22, 2016, the shooter killed Dayne, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13,  Adam Wood, 35, and Marie Janvier, 21.

Last fall, he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

with files from Charles Hamilton