An Alberta judge has found a boy not guilty of second-degree murder after he fatally shot his abusive father to prevent the death of his mother.
The boy, known as H because he can't be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was only 13 when he shot his father twice with a rifle on Aug. 5, 2013 near a remote community in northern Alberta.
Court heard the boy's home life was horrific and that his father was a drunk who ridiculed, demeaned and severely abused his wife and children.
The Crown argued that the amount of force the boy used was disproportionate to the danger his father presented.
Tests on the man's body determined he had a blood-alcohol level more than three times over the legal limit.
Justice Paul Jeffrey of Court of Queen's Bench said the boy acted to protect his mother and did not intend to kill his father.
"The first shot taken by H was in defence of and to protect his mother, to avoid her imminent murder if he did not intervene," Jeffrey said in written reasons released Friday of a decision made in court last month.
"I find the second shot was in defence of himself and also his mother, because the first was insufficient to restrain his father's aggression, by that time headed towards him. There is far more here than a reasonable doubt having been raised."
Court heard the father had a long history of viciously beating his mother, including knocking her front teeth out with a belt buckle, breaking her nose and choking her so severely that she almost died in hospital.
The man beat one his daughters, knocking her into a bathtub, causing her to miscarry.
He also whipped the boy and one of his brothers with an antenna and wire.
The father often locked the boy, his siblings and their mother in a room for up to two days.
"They lived in constant fear," Jeffrey wrote. "He threatened them into silence."
On the day of the shooting, court heard the boy's father was beating the boy's mother and the boy got a rifle from his grandfather's room.
The father saw the boy with the gun and threatened to kill both him and the mother. That's when the shots were fired.
Jeffrey said the Crown had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the boy was not acting in self defence or in defence of his mother.
"I find, in all the circumstances, H had no other choice if he was to intervene to save his mother."