Fifteen years in prison for man who killed two men in inner-city Edmonton

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A killer who shot and stabbed two men in inner-city Edmonton has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Court of King’s Bench Justice John Henderson handed down the sentence last week to 24-year-old Montana Roy Houle, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of Deng Malith Deng and Travis Waskahat.

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The killings happened within a few blocks of central Edmonton in 2020 and 2021. Houle was initially charged with second-degree murder in both homicides.

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According to an agreed statement of facts, Houle shot Deng on Aug. 26, 2020, after Deng, 32, answered the door of an apartment suite he was visiting at 10960 97 St.

Houle and another man — both of whom wore red bandanas over their faces — had gone to the suite to collect money from the man who lived there. Moments after Deng opened the door, Houle fired two rounds from a .22-calibre gun into Deng’s chest.

As Houle and his associate fled down the alley, he dropped his cellphone, which police found logged into Houle’s Facebook account. A witness also identified Houle from a photo lineup, but almost a year passed before Houle’s arrest.

In the meantime, Houle visited another home in the area, with deadly consequences.

On June 8, 2021, Houle, his girlfriend and a third man — who was walking a pit bull on a leash — walked to Waskahat’s home at 10863 98 St.

Within moments, Houle — who wore a red mask — confronted Waskahat about texts he had allegedly sent his girlfriend. The two began “posturing” as if to fight when Houle pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed Waskahat in the abdomen. Houle and his group ran. Waskahat was rushed to hospital, where he later died.

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Security cameras captured some of Houle’s group after the stabbing, showing him and his girlfriend stopping at their apartment and emerging in different clothes. Police later searched the apartment — listed as Houle’s address with his probation officer — and found a pair of jeans that tested positive for Waskahat’s blood.

Edmonton police eventually identified Houle as a suspect in both killings and issued a public notice seeking tips about his location on June 24, 2021. He was arrested on Aug. 3, 2021, and has been in custody since.

Houle pleaded guilty to killing Waskahat last October. He went to trial for his role in Deng’s death in November but ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter after the first week.

Crown prosecutor Breena Smith sought a total of 20 years in prison for Houle, including 12 years for killing Deng and eight years for killing Waskahat.

Defence lawyer Patrick Edgerton asked his client serve a total of 12 years.

Henderson ultimately settled in the middle. He said he would have sentenced Houle to 18 years — 12 for killing Deng and six for Waskahat — but reduced the term to 15 years to account for totality, a sentencing principle requiring judges to ensure consecutive sentences are not excessive.

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Had Houle been convicted of second-degree murder, he would have faced life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years.

Houle was denied bail and accrued about three years of pre-trial credit, leaving him around 12 years to serve.

The killings occurred just north of Edmonton’s Chinatown, which was thrust into the public safety spotlight in 2022 following the deaths of Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang, who were beaten to death outside their workplace.

The accused in that case, Justin Francis Bone, has a murder trial scheduled for October.

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