Christopher Husbands guilty of 2 counts of manslaughter in Eaton Centre shooting

Christopher Husbands, who shot two men to death at the Eaton Centre food court and injured several others, has been found guilty of two counts of manslaughter.

Husbands, 29, was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated assault in connection with the June, 2012 incident. Husbands sat stone-faced as the ruling came down, but smiled and seemed relaxed after he heard he was convicted for manslaughter as opposed to murder.

The jury reached its decision late Tuesday afternoon following six days of deliberations at the Ontario Superior Court.

Defence lawyers had argued Husbands should be found not criminally responsible, telling the court he was in a dissociative state at the time of the attack.

“Mental illness is something which is very little understood in our society right now and it’s very easy to look at this on first blush and many people have looked at it that way and said to themselves, ‘We know everything that there is to know about this,'” defence lawyer Dirk Derstine told reporters after the verdict was announced.

“I think that through five months of nuanced appreciation of the evidence that we’ve actually come to a point where we understand a lot more about that than what it might have seemed at first blush.”

Husbands’ lawyers said he opened fire as a result of his PTSD which was triggered by an encounter with some of the shooting victims — men who had brutally beaten and stabbed him months earlier.

Derstine believes there is now “a lot more understanding” of the consequences of PTSD as a result of the trial.

Crown lawyers said the psychiatric experts who assessed Husbands agreed he had PTSD but were split on whether he could have been in a dissociative state when he fired 14 bullets in the downtown mall’s crowded food court area.

It’s unclear when Husbands will learn his sentence.

Manslaughter involving a firearm comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison but it could be extended to a life sentence.

Husbands was previously found guilty of two counts second-degree murder in connection with the shooting, but that conviction was set aside due to what the Ontario Court of Appeal determined was improper jury selection.

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