CALGARY – The Stoney Nakoda youth who was found guilty of shooting a German tourist is set to be released from custody Thursday (April 23), after the trial judge handed down a sentence of 14 months.
The youth has already spent 15 months behind bars at the Calgary Young Offenders Centre since being charged in the 2017 shooting.
After he is released, his lawyer Balfour Der said he will be under a supervision order for seven months and have 15 months of probation.
“The supervision and probation release are on very strict terms, which included things like house arrest, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, counselling, restrictions on who he can see, where he can go and who he must live with,” Der said.
The sentence was the result of a joint submission from the Crown and defence that Judge George Gaschler agreed with.
The youth, who was 16 at the time of the Aug. 2, 2017 shooting and cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was found guilty last fall of aggravated assault and one count of discharging a firearm with intent.
Gaschler handed down the guilty verdict in October 2019, more than two years after the incident that left Horst Stewin paralyzed on his right side.
The German tourist was in Canada for his 60th birthday. He was driving along Highway 1A, with his wife, his son and his son’s girlfriend, when a vehicle pulled up alongside the family and Stewin was shot in the head.
During the trial, the family’s roadside statements were released, where Stewin’s son Daniel told RCMP at first he thought it was the wheel that exploded when he heard the noise.
“Then I looked at my dad and he was sitting like with his head down and I thought, 'what the hell,' ” Daniel Stewin said in his interview with police.
The victim's son explained how he tried to steer and brake the vehicle from the passenger's seat, while his mother and girlfriend were shouting and crying in the back seat, but he couldn’t gain control of the vehicle.
“My mom said 'he got shot, he got shot,' and then I saw, at that moment, I first saw that there was a shooting, [a bullet] hole in the glass,” Daniel said during his statement.
Horst spent close to two weeks in the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary before being transported back to Germany for brain surgery.
The surgeon removed eight bullet fragments from his head.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Dane Rolfe noted Stewin had to learn how to write with his left hand, faces memory issues and attends therapy three times a week for speech and writing.
“His prognosis for a full recovery is guarded, at best,” Rolfe said during the trial.
Despite being scheduled for two weeks, the trial only lasted a week, with closing arguments presented at the end of August.
Defence highlighted the inconsistency of the eyewitness statements, including the Stewin family’s roadside statements. Stewin's wife described the shooter as Caucasian and 30 to 40 years old, despite the accused being Indigenous and 16 years old at the time of the shooting.
During closing arguments, Rolfe said it was a “clear example of someone being honest, but just wrong in a stressful situation.”
The youth was originally facing 14 charges, however before trial the Crown withdrew nine charges, including attempted murder, after determining a conviction would be unlikely.
Before sentencing, Der requested a Gladue report – a pre-sentencing report that takes offenders Indigenous background into consideration.
The youth, who is now 18-years-old, is expected to be released Thursday (April 23).