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A jury convicted a 21-year-old Toronto man of first-degree murder Friday night, finding Lamar Skeete killed Kenneth Mark to exact revenge for testifying against him.
“We are happy. Ken can rest in peace,” his relieved mother Maureen Mark said outside the downtown courthouse.

Said his brother, Ian: “While my mom won’t have her son back, my brothers and sisters don’t have our brother back, we take comfort in the fact Lamar Skeete . . . will now face life.”
Skeete showed no reaction when the jury foreman announced the verdict around 7:30 p.m. Justice Ian Nordheimer set April 17 as his sentencing day, though he faces automatic life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Det.-Sgt. Justin Vander Heyden of the Toronto police homicide squad called the case and verdict “extraordinarily important.”

“It shows the administration of justice’s commitment to make sure all victims and witnesses will be protected and those who would seek retribution against those people will be brought to justice.”
Jurors, who began deliberations Tuesday afternoon, returned to court several times with questions. Around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, they asked the judge for the definition of “reckless,” returning within the hour with their verdict.

During the eight-week trial at Ontario Superior Court, Crown attorneys Mary Humphrey and Karen Simone alleged Skeete either fired the fatal bullet or enlisted others to kill the 30-year-old Walmart manager for breaking the code of silence by cooperating with police.

After initial reluctance, Mark told police Skeete and his brother shot him in the back with a shotgun on Sept. 2, 2008, at a housing complex at 2490 St. Clair Ave. W.

Police charged the brothers with attempted murder. But the Crown withdrew the charge against Skeete on the eve of the trial and he was released.

A judge acquitted his younger brother, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and he was set free.

Twelve days later, on Dec. 29, 2009, Mark was shot once in the back of the head walking on Gilmour Ave., near Dundas St. W.

“It is the Crown’s theory that Kenneth Mark’s murder was all about retaliation,” Humphrey said during her opening statement.

The defence acknowledged the Crown had produced evidence that would cause the jurors to be “suspicious,” but argued it wasn’t enough to convict Skeete, who testified he did not hold a grudge with Mark, someone he had known since he was 7.

Another accused, whose identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faces a first-degree murder trial next month.





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