One man received a life term and another 12 years as a judge in London, Ont., sentenced two men convicted in the 2012 shooting death of Jonathan Zak.
William Dwayne McDonald, who was convicted of second-degree murder after a jury trial in 2019, was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years. Thomas Lako, who was convicted of manslaughter at the trial, was sentenced to 12 years.
Justice Helen Rady delivered the sentences from London during a virtual court session on Wednesday.
“Mr. McDonald is, in my view, totally committed to a criminal lifestyle,” Rady said, as she reviewed his lengthy criminal record and past institutional offences.
She also reviewed Lako’s record and involvement in the crime. “Like Mr. McDonald, he has not expressed any remorse.”
Zak, 29, was shot to death in the early morning hours of May 31, 2012, in London’s Northeast Park, the court heard in Rady’s summary of the facts.
Zak had been walking home after playing board games with friends before he was the victim of a robbery.
“The evidence at trial established that in the course of an attempted robbery, Mr. Zak was shot in the chest with a shotgun. … Mr. Zak died almost instantly,” Rady told court.
Evidence in the trial found that McDonald and Lako had agreed to rob Zak prior to his death, with Lako supplying McDonald with the shotgun that killed the 29-year-old.
On Wednesday, Rady decided on a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for McDonald.
The sentence for the 30-year-old will be served consecutive to a prior life sentence with no chance of parole for 23 years, meaning McDonald won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 78. His prior sentence was for a second-degree murder conviction in the 2016 shooting death of Emmanuel Awai.
Rady told the court of McDonald’s conduct following Zak’s murder.
“He was described by witnesses as agitated when he returned to the Boullee Street complex. He bragged about the murder, he did a little dance, he laughed,” Rady said.
Lako, who is convicted of manslaughter in Zak’s death, was handed a sentence of 12 years. Factoring in time served, Lako has more than six and a half years left on his sentence.
The judge noted that while Lako had a lower level of culpability for not knowing McDonald would kill Zak, Lako still agreed to rob the victim and knew, or should have known, that Zak would be harmed.
“Further, the evidence established that Mr. Lako was in possession of the firearm when he and Mr. McDonald headed toward the park. The evidence also establishes that he gave it to Mr. McDonald,” Rady said.
Wednesday’s sentencing decision draws the near decade-long case surrounding Zak’s murder to a close.
During her decision, Rady referenced victim impact statements from family and friends that were read into court last year.
“It is very clear to me, from what I’ve read and what I’ve heard, that Jonathan Zak was a man of small stature who had an enormous presence in the lives of family and friends,” Rady said.
“He is missed.”
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