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More social responsibility needed to stop preventable mass murder

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Armoured car shooter Travis Baumgartner was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without a chance of parole for 40 years, a decision that needs to bring to the forefront the need for more social responsibility to avoid similar tragic situations, says Toronto criminal lawyer Marcy Segal.

Given the chilling evidence presented at the Baumgartner murder trial in Edmonton, where the Crown sought an unprecedented sentence, submissions regarding parole eligibility were not shocking, says Segal.

The tragic, cold-blooded murders of three armoured car employees by 22-year-old Baumgartner in June 2012 have a number of aggravating factors that makes the case a chilling reminder that mass murders are becoming more prevalent, says Segal.

In a joint submission, the Crown asked the judge to sentence Baumgartner to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years until 2052. The judge agreed with this, setting a precedent under legislation approved in 2011 preventing sentence discounts for multiple murders, and became the harshest sentence in Canada since Arthur Lucas was executed in 1962.

“The specific details of the murders are chilling and there are so many aggravating factors: glaring signs of sociopathic behaviour and lack of remorse and empathy,” says Segal of why the requested sentence is not surprising considering what the court has heard.

According to CBC, Baumgartner was charged in the June 2012 robbery and fatal shooting of Michelle Shegelski, 26, Eddie Rejano, 39, and Brian Ilesic, 35, at HUB Mall in Edmonton, a student residence and indoor food court.

In the 15-page agreed statement of facts read in court, Baumgartner had money problems leading up to the shooting.

At the time of the shooting, he had 26 cents in his bank account and owed $58,000, the news article reads, and on the night of the crime, Baumgartner fought about rent money with his mother whom he lived with in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Baumgartner told her, “It doesn’t even matter. I’m not coming home so don’t worry about it. You’ll get your money.”

Later that night, Baumgartner reported for work at G4S as usual and was assigned to replenish ATMs across the city.

Throughout the early part of his shift, Baumgartner was text messaging with a friend from junior high, joking about robbing G4S — something he had joked about before.

At one point, Baumgartner texted something along the line of “this is the night.” However, used to Baumgartner’s joking on the subject, he did not react.

Calling it a mass shooting with subtle foreshadowing and a unique set of circumstances that hopefully will not be used as a precedent, “because it would be ghastly to opine that this could happen again,” Segal says it is, “inconceivable to expect Baumgartner to be released on parole…ever. Although, never say never.”

Despite the fact Baumgartner received 40 years without parole is not what matters, says Segal. The story must bring, “to the forefront the need for more social responsibility:  recognition that ignoring the signs of this anticipated behaviour must heed the requirement that any sign of such behaviour be reported to the authorities in short order, so that prevention is the number one priority.

“May we hope that this judgment need not be utilized in future proceedings.”

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