A man charged alongside a Manitoba school principal in the vigilante killings of two men will serve five years in prison.
Andrew Bruyere pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of manslaughter in the shooting deaths of Jody Brown, 43, and Steven Chevrefils, 35.
Claude Francis Guimond was sentenced to life in prison in April after pleading guilty in March to second-degree murder in connection with their deaths.
Guimond, who used to be the principal of Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, has no chance for parole for 14 years.
RCMP were called to a home in St-Georges, a community about 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, in February 2017 and found both men had been fatally shot.
Witness hears loud bangs
Court heard the two men and a few others were in the home, having drinks and doing drugs. A man with his face painted black came in and went to the basement, where there was a grow-op, to confront Brown and Chevrefils.
A witness testified she heard loud bangs coming from the basement before she was struck in the head by a bullet that had ricocheted. Brown was found lying dead at the bottom of the stairs, court heard.
Chevrefils had been left dead on the kitchen floor after a brief struggle with the assailant, court heard.
On February 2, 2017, Andrew Bruyere was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but the charges were stayed the next day when new information came to light, according to an RCMP press release.
Guimond was initially interviewed as a potential witness but denied having prior contact with the two men. However, investigators linked DNA found at the crime scene to Guimond.
In October 2017, RCMP reviewed every detail of the investigation, leading to the re-examination of each suspect, an undertaking police labelled Project Distort.
Investigators honed in on Guimond and matched his DNA to that found at the crime scene. He was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder in December 2018.
“The arrest of Claude Guimond brought a new perspective to Andrew Bruyere’s involvement in the murders,” said Cpl. Laura LeDrew, of Manitoba RCMP Major Crime Services.
“Through the course of the investigation, RCMP determined that on the night of the murders, Claude Guimond and Andrew Bruyere went to a home in St. Georges together, and left together after the murders.”
The former principal acknowledged in court that he was extremely drunk when he went to the home. He said his goal was to confront and scare Brown and Chevrefils over their drug dealing.
Project Distort continued, and on May 6, 2019, Andrew Bruyere was arrested again and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced Monday on two counts of manslaughter, RCMP said.
“This investigation spanned 22 months and involved a number of innovative techniques to gather evidence which ultimately led to the convictions of Claude Guimond and Andrew Bruyere,” said Cpl. LeDrew. “We are pleased that this work has resulted in some closure for the families and the community.”
She added the arrested involved the coordination of many specialized RCMP units and groups across Canada.
“It’s a case that has really affected the community, due to Claude Guimond’s stature as a community leader, educator, and role model. While I know the convictions do not bring their loved ones back, hopefully the families find a little solace in knowing that those responsible for the murders have been held to account for their actions.”
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