DAUPHIN The Crown painted him as a ruthless, cold-blooded killer who had visions of becoming a professional hit man and showed no remorse.
The defence argued he was just a dumb young kid who made a drunken mistake, panicked and then got in over his head.
So who is the real Christopher Shewchuk? A judge believes likely somewhere in between the two vastly different pictures painted during a sentencing hearing involving a successful “Mr. Big” police sting operation.
Shewchuk, 32, was handed a life term behind bars Thursday afternoon with no chance of parole for at least 13 years. Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin increased parole eligibility from the mandatory minimum of 10 years, but stopped short of the 15 years the Crown was seeking.
It’s important to note parole eligibility is not a guarantee of release, just the opportunity to apply.
“What you did, Mr. Shewchuk, was a cowardly, despicable act,” Martin said.
Martin praised the “dogged determination” of RCMP investigators who broke open the 2003 disappearance of 25-year-old Derek Kembel with their elaborate undercover project in 2011. And he spoke personally to the victim’s family members, who packed the courtroom.
Shewchuk pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just as his trial was set to begin earlier this month.
Court heard his audio and video confessions where he repeatedly boasted to undercover police officers about how he killed Kembel, then got away with it for years. He told a Mountie posing as a gang hit man how he “blasted” Kembel twice with a shotgun as the man pleaded for his life, then drove his body for an hour to a family farm, repeatedly burned it and then disposed of the remains while keeping the deadly secret.
Shewchuk told a secret agent he decided to kill Kembel, a complete stranger, after seeing the man flirting with his ex-girlfriend at a Dauphin bar earlier that night.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 30, 2014