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Eaton Centre shooter to be sentenced in April

Last Updated Feb 21, 2019 at 9:54 am EDT

The man convicted in the 2012 shooting deaths of two men at the Toronto Eaton Centre will learn his sentence this spring.

A jury found Christopher Husbands, 29, guilty on two counts of manslaughter on Tuesday. Husbands, who had stood trial on the more serious charges of second-degree murder, admitted he was the shooter but his lawyers argued he should be found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

The jury also found Husbands guilty of five counts of aggravated assault and one count each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and reckless discharge of a firearm in the shooting on June 2, 2012.

Defence lawyers said the manslaughter verdict suggests the jury either believed Husbands was provoked into shooting at the men who had previously attacked him, or that his PTSD, along with other factors, “caused him to react instinctively without forming the intent to kill.”

On Thursday, the judge said the week of April 29 would be set aside for sentencing.

Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years. Husbands has already spent seven years behind bars.

During the trial, court heard Husbands was at the popular downtown mall with his girlfriend and went to the food court after purchasing inline skates and a jacket from Sport Chek.

A group of five men walked by him and Husbands pulled a gun from his satchel and fired 14 bullets in the crowded dining area, setting off a stampede as frightened shoppers ran for their lives.

Two men were killed in the shooting — prosecutors have said Ahmed Hassan, 24, died on the floor of the food court while Nixon Nirmalendran, 22, died in hospital nine days later.

Six others were hurt, including a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head and survived, and a pregnant woman who was trampled by fleeing shoppers.

Husbands had previously been convicted of second-degree murder but a new trial was ordered after Ontario’s highest court found the trial judge had erred in denying Husbands’ request regarding the method of jury selection.