Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of north Edmonton senior

A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in the 2017 revenge killing of a senior shot through the door of his basement suite.

The rooming house where Nexhmi Nuhi died was the scene of two killings on consecutive days in September.

In an agreed statement of facts, Jared William Bird admitted he handed a sawed-off shotgun another man, who shot Nuhi through the door.

The details of the crime — including Bird’s plea — had been under a publication ban. On Tuesday, a lawyer representing CBC News successfully argued to have the ban lifted.

On Sept. 12, 2017, Bird and Blayne Burnstick were driven to a rooming house near 111th Avenue and 94th Street. 

Several people were already in the basement suite when the pair arrived, according to the agreed statement of facts. 

Nuhi and Bird and two other people went into the bedroom to conduct a drug transaction.

Another man arrived at the rooming house and started knocking on the door to the basement suite. When someone opened the door, the man burst through and immediately started yelling.

 “You all better handle your business,” the man said. He kicked in the bedroom door, pulled out a handgun and aimed it at the four people in the room. 

“What are you doing in my house?” he shouted. “This is my house.”

Burnstick was sitting at the kitchen table. When he made a comment, the man struck him in the head with the handgun.

Blayne Burnstick was shot to death on Sept. 12, 2017, according to an agreed statement of facts. (Submitted by family of Blayne Burnstick)

Burnstick asked why he was being hit, and the man said: “How about this? Why don’t I use this rather than hitting you?”

The man put the handgun inches from Burnstick’s head and pulled the trigger. 

Burnstick toppled to the floor and died.

Three people in the basement suite ran off.

The shooter told Nuhi to “deal with the body.”

Nuhi, 76, covered Burnstick’s body with a blanket and told anyone who came by the suite that he was sleeping.

The killing was not reported to police.

The body was later duct taped, wrapped in a blanket and covered with two black garbage bags.

It was left on the stairway landing to the main floor suite, with a white sheet hung from the ceiling to block the view.  

The body was not discovered until Sept. 18.

Bird and his co-accused spent the night of killing plotting revenge.

Bird wanted to shoot the man responsible, according to the agreed statement of facts. 

His co-accused believed the whole thing had been set up by Nuhi, and he said the old man “had to go.”

Around 5:30 p.m. the next day, the two men returned to the rooming house.

One man had a loaded, sawed-off shotgun concealed in the leg of his pants. He handed the gun to Bird.

When the two approached the stairs that led to the basement suite, Bird “chickened out” and handed the shotgun back. 

Bird did not know the other man would use the shotgun to kill Nuhi, the agreed statement of facts said.

When the co-accused knocked on the door, Nuhi opened it slightly, with the lock chain still in place. There was a brief conversation.

As the door began to close, the co-accused levelled the shotgun and fired one round through the door. 

The two ran off.

The tenant on the first floor of the house called 911 around 5:45 p.m. to report the shooting.

Nuhi was pronounced dead at the scene, with a single gunshot wound to the chest. 

Bird was charged with first-degree murder in April 2018, but he pleaded guilty in January to the lesser included offence of manslaughter.

His sentencing is set for July 3.

The co-accused in that shooting is due in court on March 2. 

The man accused of killing Burnstick is set to appear in court this Friday.

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