Saskatoon

Judges reserve decision in La Loche school shooter appeal

The appeal for the La Loche man who killed four people and injured seven others has concluded.

Man who was 17 years old at time of mass shooting is appealing his adult sentence

La Loche Community School was the site of a mass shooting in 2016. (Jason Warick/CBC)

The fate of the La Loche man who killed four people and injured seven others is now in the hands of three judges at Saskatchewan's highest court.

Arguments in the man's sentencing appeal took place Thursday at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Regina. It's not known when the court will issue its decision.

The man cannot be named because he was 17 years old at the time of the shootings in January 2016.

He was sentenced as an adult to life in prison with no parole for 10 years.

His lawyer, Aaron Fox, said the man should have been given a youth sentence. That would allow him to serve his time in a youth facility rather than a federal penitentiary.

Fox said the man suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other impairments and that these factors were not given enough weight in sentencing.

"It was a horrific offence, there's no question about that, with far-reaching and tragic consequences. But looking at his level of maturity, our argument is that he should be sentenced as a youth," Fox said.

CBC's Kendall Latimer was covering the appeal at the Court of Appeal in Regina. Mobile users click here.

The judge who sentenced the man disagreed, noting he displayed a high level of premeditation and planning.

Prosecutors at the man's appeal also disagreed.

Crown prosecutor Bev Klatt argued Thursday that the deciding judge considered the man's mental functioning in sentencing him as an adult.

Klatt also argued the judge who handed the man an adult sentence found the planning of the shooting to be sophisticated.

She said the man had researched other school shootings and what happened in the aftermath. Klatt said that was an indication that the man was considering the consequences of his actions before he carried out the shooting.

"Everything he did leading up to the murders and what he did on that day were not the actions of someone who was immature or vulnerable," she said, noting he made a plan and carried it out.

"They were all the actions of somebody who is adapting to a change of circumstances."

Aaron Fox is representing the man who killed four and injured several others in the La Loche school shootings of 2016. An appeal of the man's sentence is scheduled for Thursday in Regina. (Don Somers/CBC News)

'The community wants to heal': La Loche mayor

Fox previously said he knows the people of La Loche want the legal case to be over as soon as possible. Fox said the man has taken several actions to speed things up.

"He did plead guilty. He did accept responsibility for it. He did so at the earliest possible moment. But at the same time, we fully understand why people want to have this finished."

Robert St. Pierre, the mayor of La Loche, said he just wants the appeal process over.

"The community wants to move forward. The community wants to heal," St. Pierre said.

"When we go through these processes and our judicial system goes through these processes the victims get revictimized."

Four people were killed and several others injured in the 2016 shooting. Two were killed in a La Loche home before the shooter proceeded to the local high school, killed two more and injured seven others.

The school entrance and other areas have been renovated since the shootings. There have been improvements to mental health and other services, although some say more needs to be done.

With files from Jason Warick, Kendall Latimer