Dustin Paul snorted cocaine in an attempt to sober up from the 35 bottles of beer he had consumed, felt his knees wobble and heard a voice telling him it was time to wake up.
But Mr. Paul, who was convicted yesterday of three counts of second-degree murder for an unprovoked shooting rampage that killed three friends and seriously wounded two others, resisted the voice telling him he would wake up to a better life.
He told court he replied to the voice, saying he didn't want to wake up alone. But the voice assured Mr. Paul that he wouldn't be alone and he would wake up with other people, court heard during his four-week trial.
That was the reason the admitted drug dealer gave for shooting and not stopping even when one of his victims begged for his life. Done with the killings, Mr. Paul put down his loaded handgun, took out a pocket knife and slit his own throat.
When police finally arrived at the party site next to Shingle Creek on the Penticton Indian reserve, Mr. Paul was still alive. But dead in the aftermath of the rampage was his cousin Quincy Paul and two close friends, Damien Endreny and Robin Baptiste.
Wounded in the shooting were two other friends, Tommy Lee Gabriel and Billy Louie. The group was partying and doing drugs when, Mr. Paul testified, he began hallucinating.
The jury began deliberating on Sept. 7, and it returned the verdict late Wednesday of guilty of three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted-murder.
Mr. Paul, 26, had hoped the jury would find him guilty of manslaughter. His defence was that in the hazy moments before the shooting, he was incapable of forming intent.
One of his victims said he held his breath underwater to hide out while waiting more than an hour for help to arrive.
Mr. Paul testified that a friend of his, Billy Louie, pleaded with him not to shoot, but he reassured him.
"It's okay," Mr. Paul said. "I felt that he'd be in a better place in a minute."
During his testimony, Mr. Paul said he was depressed that his girlfriend had broken up with him and he was unable to get past his own father's murder in 1999.
Anona Kampe, Mr. Paul's sister, said yesterday that her brother was overwhelmed with the question of why his life had not turned out better after he resolved to live differently following his father's death in a drug-related shooting.
While the rest of the family was moving on with their lives, Ms. Kampe said in an interview, her brother felt stuck.
When he began shooting, Ms. Kampe said, her brother believed that he would soon be on his way to a better life and that the deaths of his friends would have given them a better life as well.
Ms. Kampe said the murder of her father caused so much grief for her and her other six siblings that she knows her brother could not possibly have wanted to inflict the same pain on other families.
"Losing our father was hard in itself and we remember that pain," she said. "To try to deal with the fact that a family member is responsible for causing that kind of pain on other people -- it's a pain you can't wish on anyone."
Chief Stewart Phillips of the Penticton Indian Band said the triple homicide emotionally devastated families and created a high level of awareness of the drug-dealing activities by organized crime in native communities.
"What happened on Oct. 30, 2004, was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of drug dealing and drug activities in our communities," he said yesterday. "That awareness is the only hope we have of working together and eradicating this."
Mae White, a cousin of victim Robin Baptiste, said people in the community recognize now as she did that they could have been killed that day as well.
"It's been a wake-up call for everyone around here. It changed my life. I was partying hard, and when that happened, I realized it was time to stop," Ms. White said. "The drugs and alcohol have to stop here. Sometimes people aren't in their right state of mind and some people got wounded. But a lot of people here got wounded in their heart because they had to open their eyes."
Ms. White said the pain of losing family members has struck nearly everyone because most people in the tightly knit community are related. Mr. Baptiste was her cousin, she said; Mr. Paul is one as well.