After years of waiting, the family and friends of Gordon Tubman finally know what happened to him on the day he died.
He was an innocent victim, shot by a killer who just wanted to see if he was capable of taking a person’s life.
Alexander Dennis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday in a courtroom packed with Tubman’s grieving family and friends.
“Mr. Tubman is an innocent victim in every sense of the word,” Dennis’s lawyer, Don Campbell told the court.
Tubman’s body was found in the burned rubble of his home on a quarry site on Copper Haul Road on Aug. 15, 2010.
A second-degree murder conviction means a life sentence for Dennis. The only question is how long he will remain in prison before being eligible to apply for parole.
Both the Crown and defence lawyers are suggesting 12 years.
It will be up to Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale to make the final decision when Dennis is sentenced next month.
Grieving family members took turns describing the person they loved. He was someone with compassion who cared about the people around him, the court heard.
“You robbed our family of growing old with Gord,” said a letter from Tubman’s brother-in-law, Gary Rusnak
Rusnak wrote about struggles to learn to trust people again. “In my mind you are a coward,” he said.
Family members described sifting through the remains of Tubman’s home looking for anything that remained.
They told the court of the pain from going through years of not knowing what had happened.
Dennis had just barely turned 18 when he killed Tubman.
His lawyer described him as a young man who grew up in a “nurturing and caring family” in B.C.‘s Adam’s Lake.
He struggled academically and started drinking in Grade 8, the lawyer said, eventually becoming a “significant alcoholic.”
At 15 years old he came under the tutelage of a cousin, a member of the Redd Alert gang.
He was put to work selling crack cocaine for alcohol money and a place to crash, Campbell said.
He became known as Little Redd and was used to shuttle drugs between Kamloops and Vancouver.
In July 2010, a month before Tubman died, Dennis decided to cut ties with the gang and hopped on a bus to Whitehorse, his lawyer said.
At this point he was not only selling crack but also using it, the court heard.
On the day of the murder, Dennis, Tubman and a third man, Franklin Charlie, were at Tubman’s trailer.
They drank and Charlie and Tubman smoked crack cocaine.
After using a rifle to shoot some target practice, Dennis came inside the trailer and shot Tubman, the court heard.
Campbell described his client as being addicted to drugs and “near psychosis” after not sleeping for five days.
After leaving the gang he was paranoid, Campbell told the court.
“Redd Alert is going to be coming after me. They are going to kill me. I may have to kill someone. I don’t know if I can,” he said, describing his client’s state of mind.
So he shot and killed Tubman.
Tubman was “a completely innocent victim,” Campbell repeated.
After the murder, Dennis ended up in jail in Kamloops after being convicted of sexual assault, the court heard.
In March 2012, he was sentenced to two years but released on parole after 16 months.
He was then arrested and charged with murder.
Dennis appeared emotional as he faced Tubman’s family in court.
“I want to own up to what I did. I just want to own up and I’m sorry and if I could go back and fix it I would,” he said.
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