TORONTO (Reuters) – Two men accused of killing Ottawa's promising music journalist and photographer Zack Noureddine were found guilty of second-degree murder and guilty homicide, respectively, by a jury after less than a day of deliberations.
Patrick Smith wiped the tears after the jury acquitted him of first-degree murder, but was guilty of second-degree murder. Matthew Moreira was also upset after being acquitted of the murder but convicted by the minor, but included the wrongful death manslaughter offense in the violent death of the 25-year-old victim on December 29, 2015.
Smith was also convicted of assaulting Noureddine's friend Mitchell Conery while Moreira was convicted of stealing Conery.
"I am disappointed because I expected them to be convicted of murder," said Zack's father, Hassan, who lost his eldest son because of an act of violence motivated by a robbery.
"Our hope is that the judge deems it appropriate to give these killers the longest sentence possible. I hope the judge will recognize the robbery aspect as an extremely aggravating factor in this heinous crime, "said Hassan, a software engineer and father of three.
"It was not Zack they were looking at – it could have been anyone. It could have been any Canadian citizen and Zack just paid the price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Hassan said.
"Zack was an extremely kind and generous young man who fed the homeless people he saw on the streets," Hassan said. "He was a person who had dozens of friends who considered him a best friend.
"It's the hardest thing in the world for a parent to bury a child."
The Crown claimed that Smith, Moreira, and Will Cummins committed first-degree murder by killing Noureddine while simultaneously robbing and confining Conery.
Smith, 28, pleaded guilty to manslaughter while Moreira, 34, pleaded guilty to attempted theft. These faults were rejected by the Crown.
The Crown maintained that it was an intentional murder: a cruel beating committed while the victim was illegally confined.
Cummins punched Conery, who lost his glasses and remained on the ground while Noureddine was beaten to death. Moreira then set foot on Conery and said, "Give me the wallet and we're ready," the court heard. Conery had no wallet.
Cummins and Smith teamed up in Noureddine, punching and kneeing him. Smith also kicked the victim in the head. A small bone of the neck, which was between the thickness of a penny or a nickel, was broken, cutting an artery and causing fatal bleeding, the court heard.
All but one of the eyewitnesses kept only two men attacking Noureddine while Moreira waited for Conery, the court heard.
The beating ended after customers at St. Louis bar and grill shouted and were rescued by the victim, but the deadly damage had already been done.
Cummins, Smith and Moreira were drinking heavily and smoking marijuana while Smith also consumed cocaine that night, according to the study.
Cummins will have his own trial next year when he fired his lawyer after the first trial, which ended in a trial last month.
Noureddine had moved from Ottawa to Toronto a few years earlier to pursue his career dreams.
Judge Suhail Akhtar will sentence the two murderers on March 29.
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