Alberta top court downgrades murder convictions in quadruple homicide case
Calgary – Alberta’s top court has downgraded two convictions in a high-profile case involving the torture and killing of a man and the deaths of three others from first-degree to second-degree murder.
The Alberta Court of Appeal released the decision Friday in the cases of Tewodros Kebede and Yu Chieh Liao over the killing of Hanock Afowerk.
Afowerk’s body was found in a ditch outside Calgary in July 2017. He had been bound, beaten, strangled and shot.
Three other bodies were found in Afowerk’s burnt-out car at a suburban construction site. No murder charges have been laid in those deaths.
Court heard that Afowerk’s death was the culmination of a plot to kidnap him and extort him for money. The jury agreed with the Crown that Afowerk’s killing had been part of the plan from the start.
But the Appeal Court said the trial judge failed to explain that while the kidnapping and beating had clearly been planned, Afowerk’s killing may not have been. It suggested the defendants may have not have been recruited to kill him.
The Crown relied heavily on a text message sent by Kebede before the killing, which read: “U up for the job tonight?”, as evidence of planning. But because the recipient of that message didn’t testify to it, the Appeal Court concluded its meaning was unclear.
The court gave the Crown the choice of retrying the case or substituting second-degree verdicts. It chose the latter.
The court dismissed the defendants’ application for a new trial
“Following the trial judge’s instructions, the jury must have found by their verdict that both appellants actively participated in the murder of Mr. Afrowerk,” the Appeal Court said in its written judgment.
“Both would therefore be properly convicted of second-degree murder. Accordingly, there will be no prejudice to the appellants if we substitute the verdicts to reflect that fact.”
Kebede and Liao must now reappear before the trial judge for sentencing.
The change does not affect Kebede’s and Liao’s convictions involving the deaths of the other three victims.
Liao was found guilty of being an accessory in the murders of Cody Pfeiffer, Glynnis Fox and Tiffany Ear, whose remains were found in Afowerk’s charred car.
Kebede was convicted of being an accessory in Pfeiffer’s murder.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2022.
— By Bob Weber in Edmonton
WestJet announces new flights to Tokyo, Barcelona, and Edinburgh
Calgary – WestJet plans to offer flights to Japan starting this spring, marking the airline’s first non-stop flights to Asia from Calgary.
The Calgary-based airline said Monday that it will fly to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport from Calgary this spring.
The non-stop flights will operate three times weekly beginning April 30.
The airline also announced new routes from Calgary to Barcelona and Edinburgh and increased frequency to Dublin, London, Paris and Rome, also starting in the spring.
WestJet chief executive Alexis von Hoensbroech says the new flights are part of the airline’s plan to expand capacity from Calgary by more than 25 per cent by next year, beginning with intercontinental routes.
WestJet also says it is preparing for broader expansion within Canada and North America over the coming months.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2022.
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