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Youth found guilty of manslaughter in 2014 death of William Wapoose

The youth was charged in 2019 along with Jonathan Massicotte in connection to the 2014 stabbing death of 32-year-old William Wapoose
William Waboose 2
William Darryl Wapoose, 32, of Thunder Bay, was found on Sept. 3 off the bike path in Chapples Park. (Thunder Bay Police Service handout)

THUNDER BAY — More than eight years after the body of 32-year-old William Wapoose was found in the Chapples Park area, one of the accused has been convicted for their role in his death.

A male youth, who cannot be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, appeared before Justice Bruce Fitzpatrick in a Thunder Bay courtroom on Thursday for judgment.

“I find the evidence from this trial I have accepted proves beyond a reasonable doubt that [the accused] is guilty of manslaughter,” Fitzpatrick said in his ruling.

The judgment follows a trial that took place in late 2022 on the original charge of second-degree murder. Both the defense and Crown agreed at the conclusion of the trial that the decision should proceed on the charge of manslaughter.

A second accused, Jonathan Massicotte, stood trial in May 2022 on the charge of manslaughter for his alleged role in Wapoose’s death but a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. A retrial before judge alone is scheduled to take place in February 2023.

Wapoose’s body was found the morning of Sept. 3, 2014 near a bike path in the south end of Chapples Park Drive.

A post-mortem examination determined he died as a result of multiple blunt and sharp force trauma injuries to his head and neck, including a large stab wound to the neck that punctured his jugular vein resulting in significant blood loss.

No arrests were made until May 2019 when police arrested and charged Massicotte and the youth with second-degree murder.

During the accused youth’s trial, the court heard testimony from a third individual who was present the night of Wapoose’s death, as well as the accused youth who testified in his own defense.

According to evidence presented at trial, Massicotte, the accused youth, and the third youth were consuming alcohol the night of Sept. 2, 2014. After walking a fourth intoxicated individual home to the Northwood area, the three returned back through Chapples Park.

It was there they encountered Wapoose, who was intoxicated and sitting near a lamppost near Chapples Park drive.

Testimony during the trial indicated that the three had been talking of robbing someone that night.

While there were some consistencies in the testimony of the accused youth and the other youth, Justice Fitzpatrick noted that both individuals said they were not involved in the assault on Wapoose.

The defense argued that the accused youth’s testimony should be believed because he admitted to being there, but said he did not participate in the robbery or assault ,and tried telling the others to stop.

“Both men are trying to avoid culpability on the shameful beating of Mr. Wapoose that night,” Fitzpatrick said. “I find both men are not telling the truth of what happened.”

Fitzpatrick said the evidence of the accused youth lacked believability. He noted that when first interviewed by police, the accused youth said he did not come forward with any information because he feared for his safety.

But Fitzpatrick said the youth could have told police the truth. 

“My common sense tells me it was not because he was afraid of retribution, it was because he was involved in the acts leading to Mr. Wapoose’s death and did not want to admit it,” the judge said.

Fitzpatrick pointed to the accused youth’s evidence that stated he saw Massicotte beating Wapoose but noted that because Wapoose’s body was found in tall grass off the walking path, there is no way he could have seen what happened unless he was right next to them.

“The only way he could have seen this is because he was standing right beside Mr. Wapoose and assisting [Massicotte] in administering a beating of Mr. Wapoose,” Fitzpatrick said.

While Fitzpatrick also had issues with the other witnesses’ testimony, he found it more consistent than that of the accused youth’s testimony.

“I reject [the accused’s] testimony that he did not participate in the robbery and beating that lead to Mr. Wapoose’s death,” he said.

A pre-sentence report has been ordered. The matter has been adjourned to March to set a date for sentencing submissions.  

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