A Toronto man convicted of the unprovoked fatal shooting of young man a judge described as “quiet, happy and loving” was sent to prison for life Thursday with no parole eligibility for 14 years.
In passing the sentence, Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot said he found that Simeon Harty, 25, was behind the wheel of a car when he fatally shot Kevin Gidden, 23, as he sat in the front passenger seat of Honda Civic stopped at the traffic lights at Lawrence Ave. E. and Orton Park Rd.. early Oct. 27, 2016.
Harty was also sentenced to 10 years, minus two years and five months for pre-sentence custody, after a jury this past winter also convicted him of discharging a firearm with intent to wound, maim, disfigure or endanger the life of Kemar McFarlane, who was driving the Honda.
McFarlane, who escaped injury, suffered “severe emotional scarring” after the ambush and continues to suffer from “anxiety, debilitating fear and night terrors,” Dambrot said.
Both Harty and the passenger in his Mazda that night, Walid Zakaria, testified during the trial that Zakaria was the sole shooter, and that he fired a gun through the driver’s window from the front passenger seat.
Dambrot rejected that scenario.
“This is entirely inconsistent with the physical evidence, particularly the ejection of cartridge cases into the street rather than into the Mazda,” Dambrot wrote.
The judge also dismissed Zakaria’s testimony that the victims verbally taunted them — “I find as fact that this did not happen,” or that Gidden was holding a gun, which the judge said is also entirely inconsistent with physical evidence.
“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no gun in Mr. McFarlane’s car.”
Dambrot said there was no motive for the shooting. Harty and Zakaria tailed the victims from a gas station after seeing McFarlane inside a convenience store. McFarlane testified they were staring at him and making him feel uncomfortable.
The judge rejected the Crown’s recommendation that Harty receive a longer 18-year parole eligibility period, citing his modest criminal record, relative young age, employment and volunteer history. Dambrot noted he received letters praising Harty written by other inmates, who admired him for his “fairness, respectfulness and honesty, and for being a peace maker. He clearly has prospects for rehabilitation.”
Defence lawyer Craig Bottomley had asked for parole eligibility to be set at 12 to 13 years.
“The sentence reflected the need for the protection from dangerous individuals like Harty who shoot people in public places,” said retired homicide detective Gary Giroux, who came to court Thursday for the sentencing.
Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy