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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Gang members found guilty of murdering innocent bystander in Rexdale


20:01 |

 A jury found two Jamestown Crips gang members guilty Thursday of first-degree murder in the execution-style slaying of an innocent bystander in Rexdale. After three days of deliberations, the jury decided that Christopher Sheriffe, 22, was the getaway car driver and Awet Asfaha, 27, was the triggerman in the August 2009 fatal shooting of Michael Kim Bishen Golaub on Mount Olive Dr. The 34-year-old Toronto father of five and furniture-maker was visiting a friend’s backyard barbecue when Asfaha gunned him down. It was just the latest episode in a spate of shootings between warring Jamestown Crips and Mount Olive Crips. As Crown attorney Laura Bird described Golaub, he was “simply in the wrong place at the wrong time” and gangs brazenly shoot up the rival’s turf to send a message of intimidation and retribution. Justice Eugene Ewaschuk delayed passing the mandatory life sentence for both men until July 13, so that Golaub’s relatives can deliver victim impact statements. Both murderers must serve 25 years in prison before they can apply for parole. Golaub’s widow, Tedica, wept tears of joy at the verdict, saying, “A great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. These men don’t know how much this murder has messed up our lives. My children’s loving father is gone and he cannot be replaced.” Sheriffe appeared stricken, clutching his sides, as the jury announced its verdict. Asfaha, like Sheriffe, denied that he’s a member of the Jamestown or Doomstown Crips. Sheriffe is alleged to be a leader of the “Hustle Squad,” a hit team within the Jamestown or Doomstown gang. Both men maintained their innocence, with Sheriffe asserting that he was simply an innocent driver whom Asfaha exploited without revealing his murderous plot to him, said Sheriffe’s lawyer Chris Hicks. Asfaha’s version was that he was a passenger in Sheriffe’s car, who got into the back-seat while a mysterious gunman jumped into the front passenger seat after killing Golaub. Asfaha’s lawyer Liam O’Connor said Sheriffe’s witness friends were part of a conspiracy - created by Sheriffe - to point the blame at Asfaha as a killer acting on his own. O’Connor argued his client was merely a passenger in the vehicle after spending a night in a hotel with Sheriffe and two women they had picked up. Bird urged the jury to reject both accused’s accounts, calling them “preposterous and incredible.” She and co-counsel Stephanie Henderson alleged that Sheriffe and Asfaha jointly participated in the callous, calculated shooting.


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