A Northwest Territories judge has found Denecho King guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated assault at a Yellowknife apartment in 2014.
On Friday afternoon, Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mahar delivered his verdict following a four-week judge-only trial.
The judge convicted King, 25, of killing John Wifladt and causing serious injury to Wifladt’s childhood friend, Colin Digness, on December 14 that year – using ornamental swords later found by police in Digness’ Sunridge Place apartment.
“It was a long three-and-a-half year wait. But we’re happy with the verdict,” Jack Wifladt, John Wifladt’s father, told the CBC.
No date has yet been set for sentencing. Life sentences are mandatory for adults convicted of murder in Canada, with no parole eligibility for at least 10 years.
King’s defence had argued Wifladt and Digness attacked each other in King’s absence. However, a forensic expert said significant quantities of King’s DNA were found on the swords’ handles – though his fingerprints and blood were not apparent at the scene.
While the defence claimed RCMP had mishandled the investigation and could have contaminated the swords with King’s DNA, other witnesses placed King at the apartment on the night and suggested he had already been aggressive that evening, allegedly assaulting a woman in a cab.
In August 2016, while being held in Yellowknife’s North Slave Correctional Complex awaiting trial, King exploited gaps in security to escape from the jail – leading to a three-day manhunt before his recapture, for which he received a separate 18-month sentence.
King was initially arrested and charged over the Sunridge Place incident in May 2015, five months after it took place.