Danzig Street shooter deserves a second chance, victims' relatives say

Relatives of the two victims who died in the Danzig Street shooting delivered emotional victim impact statements Friday at the sentencing hearing for a 21-year-old man convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the deadly shootout.

Emotional victim impact statements were heard during sentencing hearing Friday

Joshua Yasay, 23, and Shyanne Charles, 14, were the two young people killed in the 2012 Scarborough shooting. (Twitter)

Relatives of the two victims who died in the Danzig Street shooting delivered emotional victim impact statements Friday at the sentencing hearing for a 21-year-old man convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the deadly shootout.

The convicted shooter sat quietly as the grandfather of Shyanne Charles, who was 14 when she was fatally shot, addressed the court. Victim impact statements were read at Friday's sentencing hearing. Shyanne's grandfather, Tyrone Charles, was the first to speak.

"We have to accept that Shyanne is gone, Josh is gone. That will not change," Tyrone Charles said. 

"We have memories of them ... gone but not forgotten. What matters is when this young man goes in[to prison], hopefully he comes out a better person," he said.

Shyanne Charles and Joshua Yasay, 23, were killed and more than 20 people were wounded when gunfire erupted at the July 16, 2012 party in a Scarborough neighbourhood where more than 100 people had gathered.

The convicted shooter cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, because he was underage at the time of the shooting.

Tyrone Charles, grandfather of Shyanne Charles, 14, who was killed in the Danzig Street shooting, said he hopes the convicted shooter can get a second chance to be a better person. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Charles's voice cracked as he spoke about losing too many young people to senseless violence. Taking a long pause to compose himself, he looked at and directly addressed the man in the prisoner's box.

You look at it as a second lease on life. Shyanne didn't get hers. Josh didn't get his...you get yours, use it.- Tyrone Charles

"My son, it's sad to see ... but I hope this time, whatever the judge decides to give you, you don't look at it like a punishment. You look at it as a second lease on life. Shyanne didn't get hers, Josh didn't get his ... You get yours, use it," he said.

Joshua Yasay's sister, Jennilyn Yasay, also gave a victim impact statement echoing Charles's sentiment. 

Addressing the convicted shooter directly, she said, "Use your time wisely and make amends with yourself. Seek some form of guidance that will assist you in becoming a better person."

Shooter should be sentenced as youth, defence says 

Defence lawyer Graham Zoppi said the 21-year-old is the "poster child for rehabilitation." He said the convicted shooter is involved in many programs at the corrections facility and staff describe the man as "self-motivated, humorous, intelligent and eager to help others." 

Joshua Yasay's father and sister exit the the Toronto Superior Court of Justice on Nov. 25. (Christine Pagulayan/CBC)

The convicted shooter had a chance to speak for himself when he got up to read a prepared statement. He cleared his throat several times as he apologized to Shyanne's grandfather and Joshua's father and sister, who were sitting in the front row.

"I have nightmares ... I relive it every day ... I'm truly sorry for my role in the shooting. These past 48 months, I have had time to know I was wrong ... I want to help change lives for the better."

I want to help change lives for the better.- Convicted shooter

His lawyer said the shooter is a different man than the one he was at the time of the shooting, and because he was a youth at the time, he should be sentenced as a youth. The maximum sentence for a youth would be four years in custody and three years under community supervision.

Toronto police said gang violence led to the Danzig Street mass shooting in July of 2012. Two people were killed and more than 20 were injured. (Canadian Press)

Shooter should be sentenced as adult, Crown argues

Crown lawyer Simon Heeney said that the convicted shooter willingly carried a gun and fired the first shots at the party in 2012.

The Crown argued that he was looking for a fight and knew this could lead to the deaths and injuries of others.

Heeney also argued that no one would have been hurt if the shooter did not initiate the gunfight at a party, where hundreds of people just wanted to have a good time and were "entitled to go without fear."

The sentencing hearing will continue on Dec. 7.

About the Author

Christine Pagulayan

CBC News Reporter

Christine Pagulayan is a reporter with CBC Toronto. She is also a producer at CBC News Network. Before working for CBC Toronto, she has worked for CBC News in Moncton, Halifax, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Find her on Twitter: @christineisa.