First-degree murder conviction upheld for Calgary man in swarming death

First-degree murder conviction upheld for Calgary man in swarming death

CALGARY — Alberta’s top court has upheld a first-degree murder conviction for a man found guilty in the swarming death of a young man outside a Calgary nightclub.

Nathan Gervais was originally scheduled to stand trial in May 2016, along with four other men, in the death of 18-year-old Lukas Strasser-Hird.

Hird was beaten and stabbed outside the Vinyl nightclub following an argument in 2013.

Gervais fled to Vietnam weeks before the trial was to begin.

Franz Cabrera and Assmar Shlah were found guilty of second-degree murder. Joch Pouk was found guilty of manslaughter, while a fourth suspect was acquitted.

Gervais was arrested in Vietnam in 2018. He was returned to Calgary to face trial and was convicted of first-degree murder the following year.

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Gervais appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial judge erred by ruling that he had killed someone while committing another offence — forcible confinement — and was guilty of first-degree murder. Gervais asked the Appeal court to substitute the conviction with second-degree murder.

The Court of Appeal found that the trial judge, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice William Tilleman, did not make an error in his verdict.

“The judge stated and applied the correct legal principles regarding the requirement that confinement be continuous and be distinct from the act of killing,” wrote Justice Marina Paperny.

“The trial judge concluded the confinement started when Mr. Gervais and his friends blocked the exit at the front of the Vinyl and continued until Mr. Strasser-Hird was pinned against the dumpster in the alley.

“It was Mr. Gervais’ actions both at the front and rear alley of the Vinyl that prevented Mr. Strasser-Hird from leaving safely.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020

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The Canadian Press

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