A friend of the Moncton shooting suspect has pleaded guilty to uttering death threats aimed at law-enforcement officials, and was released on conditions including house arrest and an order not to communicate with the accused gunman.
Jasper Stam entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning after what the Crown described as "lengthy discussions" with Mr. Stam's counsel and the investigators probing threats made between May 10 and May 18 of this year.
Mr. Stam, wearing a plaid shirt and a long chain bearing a cross, will face a sentencing hearing on Sept. 9 of this year. The judge, Anne Dugas-Horsman, reminded him she's under no obligation to agree to whatever sentencing recommendation the Crown and his counsel put forth. Mr. Stam said he understood.
Mr. Stam's family and friends were in the provincial courtroom in a show of support, but none immediately offered comment. Mr. Stam later emerged from the courthouse's backdoor to the embrace of his girlfriend and a few friends, shouting his joy at the rain pouring down and at obtaining a cigarette. He declined to comment on the death threats and his relationship with the accused gunman.
As part of his release conditions, Mr. Stam is under house arrest at a Moncton duplex and can't own or acquire firearms. He is allowed to leave for work and medical reasons, and if he gives the RCMP 48 hours notice, he can leave to meet with his counsel, attend family events in nearby Notre-Dame and attend job interviews or leave for religious purposes.
He is also forbidden to use the Internet or communicate with Justin Bourque, the 24-year-old accused in the Moncton shootings of June 4. The RCMP has said the death threat charges, laid June 9, are not connected with shootings.
At the end of the hearing, the judge misspoke, saying the sentencing hearing for "Mr. Bourque ... excuse me, Mr. Stam" will take place in September.
People close to Mr. Stam -- a friend of Mr. Bourque who defends the accused gunman on his Facebook page -- have expressed frustration at him being linked in the minds of some in the Moncton community with the June 4 homicides.
In a Facebook post on June 7, Mr. Stam, alluding to Mr. Bourque, wrote: "Justin had no mental illness. he did not do hard drugs. he did not do anyone who deserved respect any wrong. Not ever." In an apparent reference to police, Mr. Stam added that Mr. Bourque did not "pretend to be above others" as the "pigs do downtown and on the roads."
Mr. Bourque, 24, was charged earlier this month with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.