Clarke found guilty of 1st Degree in Labossiere Murder!!!
WINNIPEG – Kelly Clarke has been convicted of the cold-blooded killing of a Winnipeg man and his pregnant wife.
Jurors returned their guilty verdict to two counts of first-degree murder just after 2 p.m. Thursday. They had been deliberating since Wednesday afternoon.
Clarke, 41, showed no emotion at the verdict, although members of his family were in tears. He also had no comment before Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull imposed a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
Clarke had pleaded not guilty to gunning down Joël and Magdalena Labossière in their St. Vital home in April 2008. Their one-year-old daughter was asleep in her nearby crib but wasn’t injured.
Crown attorney Gerry Bowering read a powerful victim impact statement in court Thurday which was submitted by grieving family members. Part of it was written on behalf of the slain couple’s now four-year-old daughter, Gabrielle.
“I once had a Mommy and Daddy. They were killed by a bad m an who came to our house while I slept. I cried for a long time,” the statement read.
Crown and defence lawyers had made closing arguments Monday, giving vastly different accounts of the evidence in the two-week trial.
Bowering said there was an “overwhelming” case against Clarke and the verdict should be clear. The evidence includes the eyewitness testimony of Steven Solomon, who allegedly was with Clarke at the time of the shootings and gave a detailed account of how it went down.
Court was told Clarke allegedly used his gun to smash a window before going inside and killing the couple with Solomon nearby. Police later recovered a sawed-off shotgun from the Assiniboine River, thanks to Solomon’s directions. They also seized a surveillance video showing Clarke and Solomon buying clothing at Walmart in the hours before the slayings.
Defence counsel Greg Brodsky had attacked the credibility of Solomon’s testimony and urged the jury to acquit Clarke.
“There’s no link in this case of Kelly Clarke to that house,” he argued. Brodsky cautioned the jury that Solomon is not a reliable witness, pointing out the man’s criminal record.
Solomon was not charged for his role in the deaths and is in the witness protection program. Also, he didn’t discuss what happened the night of the homicide until he was under investigation for an unrelated matter, Brodsky said.
Bowering told court earlier in the trial the double homicide was connected to a triple killing in a St. Leon farmhouse in 2005 in which Fernand and Rita Labossière and their adult son, Rémi, died. They were fatally shot before the house was set on fire. That case touched off a bitter family dispute about the couple’s $1.3-million estate, which is still before the courts.
When he died, Joël Labossière was in a court battle with his uncle, Jérôme Labossière, over the estate. Jerome was ultimately charged in May 2008 with first-degree murder for the deaths of his parents and brother. Two other men, Jeremie Toupin and Michael Hince, were also charged. Toupin has since pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing. Labossière and Hince are set for trial next year. Jérôme has not been charged in the deaths of Joel and Magdalena Labossière.