NEWS
11/22/2016 18:52 EST | Updated 11/23/2017 00:12 EST

Killer in random attack pleads guilty to manslaughter

Julien Cadrain Levasseur, originally charged with second degree murder, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in what appeared to be an unprovoked fatal attack on an elderly New Westminster woman in June 2015. 

CBC News has learned the 24-year-old man pleaded guilty in September to the lesser charge in New Westminster Provincial Court. 

Shortly after 6 p.m. PT on June 3, 2015, 79-year-old Charan Dhandwar was walking west along the southside of the 1500 block Eighth Avenue, only minutes from the home where she lived with her husband, their son and his family. 

New Westminster police were called to reports of a man and an elderly woman fighting.

When officers arrived, the woman was dead — her body lying on a sidewalk hidden by a thick, towering hedge outside of a tiny house. 

Dhandwar was a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. 

Daily walker 

People who live near the crime scene said they were familiar with Dhandwar and three other older women who walked daily — sometimes twice a day — in the area.

"Once in a while, I would greet them if they were on this side of the street — like hello, how are you," said Anju Parmar whose house is a couple of doors from where the attack happened. 

That sunny afternoon, Dhandwar had been out to pay respects at a friend's home, where there had been a death in the family and Parmar was gardening in her front yard.  

Odd stranger 

Parmar was alerted something was wrong when she noticed a young man behaving oddly near her home.

"He was running back and forth on the sidewalk," said Parmar.

"Suddenly, he ran into traffic. He was hit by a car, got up and kept running."

Shortly afterwards, police arrested Levasseur in a dramatic takedown in a residential area about three blocks away.

The next day, his lawyer told a provincial court judge Levasseur was a New Westminster resident with a job and a post-secondary school education. 

Calls to a Vancouver lawyer listed on Levasseur's court documents have not been returned. 

Sentencing 

Manslaughter carries no minimum sentence unless it's committed with the use of a firearm. 

Other manslaughter sentences vary from probation to life in prison. 

Levasseur is scheduled to be sentenced early in the new year in the same New Westminster courthouse where Dhandwar's son is a sheriff.