Man handed life sentence, no parole for 12 years, in murder of Winnipeg taxi driver
A Winnipeg man who fatally stabbed a taxi driver 17 times in his cab in the North End will spend at least 12 years behind bars before he is eligible parole.
Friday morning in the Court of King’s Bench, Justice Joan McKelvey delivered her decision in the sentencing of 23-year-old Okoth Obeing.
Obeing was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Balvir Toor, a cab driver who had picked up Obeing in the early morning hours of March 19, 2020.
“The killing was senseless, vicious, and brutal,” McKelvey said in her 27-page decision.
Court heard Obeing stabbed Toor 17 times in his cab on Burrows Avenue after he was asked to prepay for his taxi ride. McKelvey described the killing as one fuelled by rage, animus towards people of South Asian descent, racism, and feelings of disrespect over the request to prepay for his ride.
McKelvey said in her decision Obeing fled the scene, disposed of the murder weapon, and lied to police with respect to his involvement.
The conviction of second-degree murder carries with it a mandatory life sentence.
The Crown had been seeking a period of 15 years of parole ineligibility, while Obeing’s defence had called for the minimum 10-year period.
McKelvey, in the end, sentenced Obeing to a life sentence with no chance of parole for 12 years. She said any determination about future dangerousness will be best determined by a parole board.
“Clearly, Obeing will not be released from custody if he continues to present in a dangerous fashion,” McKelvey said in her decision.
Defence lawyer Alex Steigerwald had argued Obeing’s mental health issues, which include bipolar disorder and an intellectual disability, impact his moral culpability.
McKelvey said the mental health issues did lessen Obeing’s moral culpability. While they played a role in the killing, McKelvey said it was not a principal role.
She said there is a need to recognize that treatment options and rehabilitation must be significant considerations.
“While in custody, every effort to access psychiatric and psychological treatment should be undertaken,” she said. “Treatment stands as the best option towards enabling parole in the future.”
In addition, Obeing was issued a lifetime weapons prohibition, and ordered to give DNA samples for the purpose of a forensic DNA analysis.
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