THUNDER BAY - One of the two accused found guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the 2019 shooting death of 40-year-old Lee Chiodo received two concurrent life sentences and will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.
Musab Saboon, 30, appeared in a Thunder Bay Courtroom on Wednesday before Justice Danial Newton for sentencing.
In April, Justice Newton found Saboon and co-accused, David Hui, guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping following an eight-day trial that opened on Feb. 28, 2022.
During the trial, the Crown’s evidence relied primarily on testimony by its key witness, Marshall Hardy-Fox, who testified to driving Saboon and Hui to a Memorial Avenue bowling alley the night of Feb. 23, 2019 where Chiodo was confronted.
Chiodo was then driven to a remote area near 108th Avenue on Mission Island and removed from the car. Hardy-Fox testified to hearing Saboon and Hui discuss what to do before Hui saying, ‘I’ll do it,’ which was then followed by a gunshot.
A post-mortem examination determined Chiodo died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head. The firearm used was never recovered.
Hardy-Fox was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder and kidnapping and in May 2022 he was sentenced to five years and eight months. With credit for pre-sentence custody, he has 23 months left to serve on his sentence.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years. On the charge of kidnapping with a firearm, the sentence can range between five years and life imprisonment.
Assistant Crown attorney Rob Kozak called for a sentence of life imprisonment on the kidnapping charge, arguing the sentence must serve both specific and general deterrence for such a crime.
“This was a criminal enterprise and unfortunately no longer a unique situation in Thunder Bay,” Kozak said. “This is something that contained drugs and guns and desperation and debt and actions on the debts leading to the point of words and threats and eventually fatal action. The kidnapping led to that criminal enterprise so the sentence needed to be severe because the crime was severe.”
Defense counsel Brennan Smart requested a sentence of five years on the kidnapping charge.
According to Smart’s submission, Saboon was born in Sudan and immigrated to Canada with his family in 2000. He then resided in Kitchener, Ont. and completed his high school education and some post-secondary courses.
Saboon’s past criminal record was presented to the court, which included 25 convictions between 2010 and 2018 for various crimes including armed robbery.
The court also heard victim impact statements from Chiodo’s brother and mother, who spoke of how Lee’s death has created a profound loss for the entire family.
“I am left constantly wondering how people can do such things to a human being,” read a statement from Sandra Hay, Lee Chiodo’s mother. “Taking a life and not feeling any shame for it. You don’t know what pain is until you know the light has gone out of the eyes of someone you love.”
“I can’t begin to explain the hole left by the loss of my brother Lee,” said Peter Chiodo in his statement, adding that Lee had faced many struggles in his life, including addiction, but that he was a gentle soul.
“He would never resort to violence. He loved animals, his family, his friends, nature.”
When given an opportunity to speak, Saboon expressed sympathy to the Chiodo family for their loss but went on to say he should not be sitting before the court about to be sentenced in connection with Chiodo’s death.
“Understand that the whole truth was not told in the courtroom,” Saboon said. “It was more lies than anything and that’s the reason why I am here today.”
Saboon went on to say that when he first turned himself in to the Thunder Bay Police Service he believed the justice system would reveal the truth.
“This case really showed me how flawed and racist the Thunder Bay Police is,” he said, adding investigators focussed their attention on him because he was a Black person believed to be selling drugs in the city.
Saboon added that the Crown’s key witness was willing to lie during his testimony and the Superior Court Judge erred in his ruling and was ‘incompetent’ for failing to look into his alibi.
“Even though this trial did not turn in my favour, I will get an appeal ruling in my favour,” he said.
Justice Newton agreed with the Crown’s submission, calling it a cold-blooded kidnapping and murder involving drugs and guns that are ‘infecting the city.’
The two life sentences are to be served concurrently. Additionally, Saboon will be required to submit a DNA sample and is subject to a lifetime weapons prohibition.
Sentencing submissions for David Hui are expected to be presented to the court early next month.