Quesnel man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon

A jury in Whitehorse, Yukon has found a 22-year-old Quesnel man guilty of first-degree murder.

The verdict against Edward James Penner was issued Thursday for the July 2017 shooting death of Adam Cormack, 27. The outcome automatically carries a sentence of life without eligibility for parole for 25 years.

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Penner was charged a few days after Cormack's body was found on a dirt road near a gravel pit north of Whitehorse. 

After the verdict was read, Crown prosecutor Tom Lemon indicated that there were two victim impact statements that would be read.

The first was read was from Theresa Cormack, the mother of the deceased. She thanked court staff for the work done to get the conviction. She expressed her disdain for Penner.

"I hate you," she said.

She said her son helped her around her home and now she can't leave the house without looking over her shoulder. She reports feeling anxiety, post traumatic stress and other negative health impacts. She added that she is scared of people and does not trust anyone.

"I miss my boy more and more every day," Theresa said.

She explained that her family was close. Her son's death caused fighting with family. She said she fought with her daughter as they grieved. She added that Adam had helped pick out their dog, whom now sleeps in his room and waits for him to come home. The dog reportedly smells the box that contains Adam's ashes.

She added that she waits for Adam to come home as well. Theresa told the court that she had lost money due to being unable to work. The loss of her son forced her on disability. She pointed out that her son may have had some trouble with the law but overall was a good kid.

"My feelings are crushed," she said.

She called Penner a coward for falsely befriending her son, taking him to the old Castle Rock gravel pit northwest of Whitehorse and shooting him. She felt Adam was capable of defending himself if Penner had faught fair. She was happy that Penner would be going to jail as he was "no good to society".

Catherine Cormack, Adam's sister read her statement. She said that Penner ruined her life and left her family lost as well as confused. She described her brother as kind and loving, the type of person that would help anyone.

"You, Penner, took that away from me," she said.

She too reports having post traumatic stress disorder as well as anxiety attacks. She has been put on different medications and is on disability as well. She added that her brother did nothing wrong to deserve his fate. She feels like she is in a nightmare.

"I just want him back," she said. She felt Penner had no conscience, is a psychopath and should not be released from prison.

"Roses are red, violets are black, I want my baby brother back," she said closing her statement.

Brooker gave Penner a chance to speak. Penner declined.

Crown prosecutor Amy Porteous and Lemon were not able to comment on the results after court. Lemon briefly said that everyone worked very hard to get to this point. Defense lawyers André Ouellette and Kelly Labine spoke to media outside the court. Ouellette said the jury is never wrong.

"When a jury delivers a verdict, justice is done," he said.

He said he followed Penner's instructions on not calling him as a witness. He was not able to give further details due to attorney client privilege.

Ouellette was not in a position to say if there would be an appeal. He explained that this would be up to Penner himself who has 30 days to make that decision.

"I don't plan anything, Mr. Penner will decide that," he said. He explained that there is always an aspect of any case that can be appealed. He pointed out that Brooker is a very careful and experienced judge. At this point, Ouellette was unsure if there was anything appealable. That said, he clarified that if someone looked at the transcript something may be found.

"I can't say at this point," he said. He has no word from Penner on how he feels about being convicted. He said Penner heard the evidence like anyone else. He said the trial unfolded quicker than anticipated. He expected the trial to last until the end of September. That said, it still went well.

He is unsure if he would have done anything different. He is satisfied he and Labine conducted the case well. After the verdict was reached, Cormack's family and friends stood outside the courthouse holding signs and celebrating Penner's conviction.

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