No parole eligibility for 10 years in life sentence of man convicted in Minto murder

A man who confessed to a Minto murder four years after committing the crime will be able to apply for parole after serving a decade of his life sentence.

New Brunswick Court of King's Bench Justice E. Thomas Christie sentenced Wade Thompson on Monday to life in prison, with no eligibility for parole for 10 years, for the second-degree murder of Michael Wagnies on Aug. 1, 2018.

Second-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison but it was up to Christie to impose a parole ineligibility period of no less than 10 years and no more than 25 years.

Christie's sentencing decision was in keeping with a recommended sentence jointly agreed to by Crown and defence lawyers ahead of Monday's proceeding.

Crown prosecutor Patrick McGuinty said if it weren't for Thompson's unprompted confession to police in March 2022, the Crown would have sought a longer parole ineligibility period.

He said that following Wagnies's killing, RCMP did an exhaustive investigation and had even looked into Thompson, but cleared him in the case.

Michael Wagnies was found dead inside his Minto home on Wednesday morning and RCMP consider the death a homicide.
Michael Wagnies was found dead inside his Minto home on Centennial Drive in Minto on Aug. 1, 2018. (Photo: Submitted)

Police had run out of leads, and the case had gone cold, when Thompson called them on March 3, 2022, to admit to killing Wagnies.

"Absent the confession — the unprompted confession in a cold case — the Crown would not entertain this period of parole ineligibility," McGuinty said.

Christie did not need time to deliberate before imposing the jointly recommended sentence.

"The Crown is correct to acknowledge that were it not for the unprompted confession years after the offence, the family would have no closure as to who did what," Christie said.

"The community would continue to live in some state of doubt, all of which has been alleviated by Mr. Thompson's unprompted confession to the horrific crime that brings us here today."

Agreed facts

According to an agreed statement of facts, Thompson had been purchasing drugs from Wagnies out of his home on Centennial Drive in Minto, about 50 kilometres east of Fredericton, for two to three months prior to the homicide.

On Aug. 1, 2018, Thompson showed up to Wagnies's home with a baseball bat, in a deep drug-induced withdrawal.

He told Wagnies he needed drugs, but did not have money. Wagnies declined to give him drugs and told Thompson that he already owed $10 from a previous purchase.

Thompson then pushed Wagnies to the ground and hit him in the head with the baseball bat as he was getting up.

Thompson then rushed to the kitchen, took a steak knife and stabbed Wagnies multiple times in the back of the neck, before rummaging through Wagnies's belongings in search of drugs.

He took the broken baseball bat, knife, a pill bottle of drugs and Wagnies's wallet and left the home.

An autopsy identified Wagnies's cause of death to be the multiple stab wounds, including one that punctured his right jugular vein and carotid artery.

He bled to death on the floor of his living room and was found dead later that morning by another man who came to the home.

Family left traumatized

Before Christie sentenced Thompson, the court heard victim impact statements from Tammy Hiltz and Rhonda Huffman, Wagnies's sisters, who emotionally described how their lives were upended by his murder.

Hiltz said she suffered from anxiety, lost sleep and lived in fear for years following Wagnies's killing.

She described how the emotional distress led to strains in her personal relationships and to the loss of her job.

And she lamented how Thompson's violent actions that day happened over a "ten-dollar pill."

"My brother, Michael, was a human being. A person we loved, flaws and all," she said.

"He didn't deserve to suffer a horrific, brutal evil attack that took his life."