Edmonton man found guilty of murder for shooting outside northern bar

A judge has rejected an argument of self-defence in convicting an Edmonton man of first-degree murder in the shooting death of another Edmonton man outside a northern Alberta bar.

Nicholas Richard Harris was charged after John William Rock died outside the Canadian Brewhouse in Grande Prairie in October 2014.

Harris, who is 37, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for 25 years.

In his written decision read in a Grande Prairie courtroom on Friday, Queen’s Bench Justice Eldon Simpson said the killing was planned and deliberate.

Simpson noted that Harris started carrying a handgun months earlier when the two former friends — who were part of the same drug-dealing ring — had a falling out over a $30,000 drug debt that Harris owed Rock.

Harris had testified he aimed downward trying to stop Rock in an attack, but the judge pointed out that video showed a second shot Harris fired was horizontal and hit Rock in the chest.

Court heard that the two men met inside the Brewhouse the night of the killing. Harris thought they would try to settle their debt. He also believed two drug gang members were being held hostage by Rock and some of his associates.

Evidence cited in the written decision showed the two men moved outside and Rock threw two punches that hit Harris. Harris shot him once in the leg and once in the chest as Rock was still coming at him.

Harris chose not to say anything to the court after the sentence.

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