Bloor West Villager
Convicted of first-degree murder, a 21-year-old Toronto man has been sentenced to life for the murder of Junction 'gentle giant' Kenneth Mark.
Mark, 29, died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head on Dec. 29, 2009 on Gilmour Avenue, north of Dundas Street West outside a pizzeria.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer sentenced Lamar Skeete to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.
"I can only hope that the outcome of this case will send a very clear message and serve as a very strong deterrent to any other persons who might otherwise choose to try and intimidate any individual from pursuing their rights or from doing their duty as citizens," Nordheimer said in court.
Police called Mark's death, Toronto's 62nd homicide of 2009, an "extremely cowardly murder."
"It's unbelievable they'd walk up behind a fellow listening to an iPod, that they'd sneak up from behind and shoot him in the back of the head," said Homicide Squad Det. Hank Idsinga at a press conference in January of 2010. "The cowardice that was displayed is incredible."
Mark's brothers Ian and Shawn each spoke at the press conference.
"He was a very nice guy, a 'gentle giant,'" said Shawn. "He was a brother each and every one of us here would like to have."
He never spoke of being in danger, added Shawn. As kids, the siblings would fly kites, play marbles and ride homemade scooters.
"He was just trying to show the kids there's a different way to resolve arguments," said Shawn of his brother's mentoring of children in his St. Clair and Runnymede Road area apartment complex.
In her victim impact statement, Mark's mother Maureen, recalled her son's caring demeanor and his desire to stand up for and help others. He would buy ice cream for all the kids who lived in the same housing complex as his family did, she said.
Skeete testified during the trial that he did not kill Mark, however, acknowledged that he was nearby.
Before court officers led him away, he was served a subpoena to testify at the upcoming trial of a youth also facing a first-degree murder charge. The Crown alleges the teen acted as the lookout, who kept an eye on Mark while he ordered his pizza.
- with files from Torstar News Service