TORONTO — The Parole Board of Canada says a man convicted of manslaughter in a deadly public shootout at an east Toronto block party lacks the community support to be released on full parole.
But the two board members who heard Nahom Tsegazab's case earlier this month say he has shown enough personal growth and maturity while incarcerated to be granted day parole.
In a decision released today, the panel gave Tsegazab six months of day parole with several conditions, including that he not contact any of the victims or their relatives, and avoid anyone involved in criminal activity.
Tsegazab, 26, is serving a sentence of more than 11 years after being convicted of two counts of manslaughter and six of aggravated assault in connection with the July 2012 shooting.
The incident, which took place at a crowded barbecue at a social housing complex, claimed the lives of 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, and sent 23 people to hospital.
It remains unclear who fired the fatal shots but Tsegazab was one of several gunmen involved.
The board members said in their ruling that Tsegazab showed significant insight into his crime and its impact on the community at the March 11 hearing.
"You were able to understand the mistakes you made as a young man and took accountability. You demonstrated remorse for your actions," they said.
Tsegazab knew the deceased and their families and acknowledged he could never undo the harm he caused, the board members said, adding they believed his empathy and regret to be sincere.
They also noted Tsegazab was incarcerated young and gained some maturity behind bars. "One sign of maturity is your ability to admit your former association with a gang, as you had previously denied that you were a gang member," they said.
His time in prison has not been without incident, however, the board members said — a fact that influenced their decision not to grant him full parole.
The panel noted Tsegazab was found to have two kitchen knives in his unit in March of last year, which he said was because he didn't know they had to be returned to the common kitchen.
The board members also mentioned an incident in May of last year, in which two phone cards were found during a routine search of Tsegazab's cell, including one that wasn't his.
Two days later, it was discovered that a cellphone seized earlier from another inmate had videos of Tsegazab, some of which were "intimate in nature." The board said Tsegazab claimed he was using the phone to contact two female friends and to use SnapChat.
As a result, he was transferred back to a medium-security facility, though he is now recommended to return to a minimum-security one, the board said.
"Clearly, your institutional behaviour is an area of concern to the board, as it appeared that you had regressed," it said, stressing the need for compliance with rules and expectations.
The board noted the Correctional Service of Canada recommended denying Tsegazab both day and full parole. It also said the parole office in his chosen area opposed his release, "citing public safety concerns and gang associations as well as the severity and violence of your index offences."
Tsegazab requires a "structured and gradual" release into the community, meaning he must complete a period of day parole before he can be considered for full parole, the board said.
His plan for day parole is to work full time and continue his education through evening or online classes, the decision said.
One of the conditions of his day parole is that he remain employed or seeking employment. Others include that he only own one telecommunications device and disclose his financial situation with his parole supervisor.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 25, 2020.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press