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Saskatoon man sentenced to 10 years for fatal shooting 'that borders on the bizarre': defence lawyer

Dartagnan Whitehead, 18, was shot and killed by members of the Terror Squad street gang on July 11, 2020. His mother, Lois Ahpay, says her life will never be the same following the death of her son and youngest child. (Submitted by Lois Ahpay - image credit)
Dartagnan Whitehead, 18, was shot and killed by members of the Terror Squad street gang on July 11, 2020. His mother, Lois Ahpay, says her life will never be the same following the death of her son and youngest child. (Submitted by Lois Ahpay - image credit)

Defence lawyer Greg Curtis says the set of facts around a fatal shooting in 2020 "borders on the bizarre."

Dartagnan Whitehead, 18, died after getting shot once in the chest with a sawed-off .303 rifle on July 11, 2020. On Tuesday, 21-year-old Stephen Swiftwolfe-Lewis pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Court of King's Bench. Justice Naheed Bardai accepted a joint sentencing submission of 10 years.

Bardai heard how the shooting happened after members of two rival gangs — the Terror Squad and Westside Outlaws — were at two separate parties in the same building.

"It borders on the bizarre that those events happened," Curtis said.

"That two rival gangs end up on the opposite sides of a duplex."

Police tape surrounds a home in the 100 block of Avenue K South on July 11, 2020. Dartagnan Whitehead, 18, was shot and killed at the home around midnight. Three people are now facing charges of second-degree murder in connection with the death.
Police tape surrounds a home in the 100 block of Avenue K South on July 11, 2020. Dartagnan Whitehead, 18, was shot and killed at the home around midnight. Three people are now facing charges of second-degree murder in connection with the death.

Police tape surrounds a home in the 100 block of Avenue K South on July 11, 2020, where Dartagnan Whitehead was shot and killed. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC )

Whitehead, a member of the Westside Outlaws, had gone to a friend's birthday party that night. April Littlecrow lived in one of the units and spoke with CBC.

Littlecrow said she knew that trouble was brewing when she went next door at her duplex at 121 Ave. K South and encountered a room full of people dressed in red.

It was in the the early morning hours on a Saturday.

"There was a bunch of them in there, seven, eight, dressed in red. I backed out 'cause, like, that scared me," she said in an interview in 2020.

Littlecrow said the red colours are associated with the Westside Outlaws gang.

She went back to her unit to warn her son, Swiftwolfe-Lewis, who she said is a Terror Squad member. She spoke with him, his sister and another man.

"You guys, don't go next door, there's a bunch of haters there," she said.

"And then, they went next door."

Littlecrow said she heard a gunshot moments later.

"I could hear screaming and all I could think was something happened, bad," she said.

A difficult childhood

Whitehead's mother, Lois Ahpay, read a statement in court, describing her son as a "happy, caring, loving, giving person." She said her world was shattered by his death and that she has struggled to maintain the sobriety she achieved in the years before his death.

"I don't know how to manage the hurt I carry," she said.

"I try to find forgiveness. I can't and I won't."

Curtis said that Swiftwolfe-Lewis lived with his grandmother until she died when he was 10. At 16, he moved in with his mother in Saskatoon, where he was given drugs to sell and recruited into a gang.

Curtis said it was not a pre-meditated gang hit and that Swiftwolfe-Lewis had never met Whitehead. Swiftwolfe-Lewis was intoxicated on drugs and alcohol, and shot the high-powered rifle through the open doorway into a crowded house.

Justice Bardai characterized what happened as "completely avoidable."