A jury has found former Saskatchewan RCMP officer Kevin Gregson guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing of Ottawa police officer Eric Czapnik.
The verdict of first-degree murder carries an automatic penalty of life in prison with essentially no chance of parole for 25 years. Gregson could apply for parole in 15 years under the faint hope clause.
The former Mountie was also found guilty of robbery for a carjacking in a west Ottawa parking lot and was sentenced to five years, to be served concurrently. He was also given a lifetime weapons ban.
A standing room-only crowd, including Czapnik's family and his former platoon-mates, heard the verdict from inside the courtroom Tuesday evening. More people also watched via video from a jury assembly room.
Gregson, 45, did not react and when given the chance to speak, he refused, the CBC's Evan Dyer reported. Czapnik's widow, Anna Korutowska, showed a faint smile, and there was a gasp and some applause after the verdict was read.
Judge Douglas Rutherford told the jury he would continue with sentencing immediately after the verdict and they could leave, but all 12 jurors chose to stay.
Victim impact statements read
The court then heard four victim impact statements, including one from four paramedics who tried to assist Czapnik, his widow, his son Arthur and a former colleague.
Korutowska talked about her family and how Czapnik's mother has battled a heart illness since his death. She also talked about his children, her step-children, saying they miss their father.
But she told the court "our family will be happy again" and her late husband is their "hero".
Paramedic Virginia Warner spoke for the four paramedics who responded the night Czapnik was killed.
"We are all different people since the night of the murder," Virginia Warner read aloud. "We have all been affected in different ways.
"It has affected our professional lives profoundly, and one of us will never work again as a paramedic."
The paramedics said they now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Const. Chris Getz, one of Czapnik's colleagues, said in his statement that he lost a "true friend" and described the death as life-altering. He commended the fallen officer's family for being "nothing short of inspiring."
Arthur Czapnik, one of the fallen officer's four children, read his victim statement after the court observed a minute of silence at his request.
"I remain fatherless," he said.
Gregson admitted killing Czapnik
During testimony late last week, Gregson admitted to killing Czapnik, 51, who was stabbed outside the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital in the early hours of Dec. 29, 2009.
But Gregson said he did not murder Czapnik, the Ottawa police force's oldest ever recruit.
The defence argued Gregson did not intend to kill Czapnik but stabbed him as a response to punches thrown in a scuffle.
The defence also said he was intending to commit suicide with Czapnik’s gun and should be charged with manslaughter instead of first-degree murder.
Under the Criminal Code, killing a police officer carries an automatic charge of first-degree murder, regardless of whether there was planning or premeditation.
The Crown argued Gregson lied about the severity of stab wounds he suffered during a suicide attempt and attacked a defence based on his mental health.
The jury of eight men and four women spent more than nine hours deliberating before they reached a verdict. By 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, everything was over and the courtroom emptied.
The trial, which was expected to last a month, took only 12 days.
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