Jury convicts in shooting of TTC bus driver
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2009 8:18PM EST
The man accused of firing a shot that left a TTC bus driver blinded has been found guilty of the lesser offence of aggravated assault.
Malcom Chalmers, 23, had been on trial for the more serious offence of aggravated assault stemming from the four-year-old incident. He was also found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence.
The jury reached the verdict at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday after beginning its deliberations on Tuesday afternoon. Chalmers will be remanded in custody until Jan. 8.
To convict on attempted murder, the jury would have had to believe Chalmers intended to kill bus driver Jamie Pereira.
"I think he's disappointed," Det. Sgt. Mike Barsky of Toronto Police told reporters about Pereira. "I think he's more than happy with the work that was done to get this result. But I don't think we could expect he would be happy in any regard."
The incident left Pereira without his left eye, severe damage to his right one, facial injuries -- and has him living in a state of permanent fear. "Mr. Pereira will never be the same, nor his family," Barsky said.
Chalmer's lawyer told reporters that her client is adamant that he is not guilty of this crime and that they will be exploring avenues of appeal. "He was not the wielder of the gun," Mary Cremer said, adding the "prayers of the Chalmers family are with Mr. Pereira."
She noted there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting or identification at the scene.
The incident occurred at a bus stop at Morningside Avenue and Sewells Road on Oct. 15, 2005 after 11 p.m. A scuffle developed involving a group of young men.
The jury heard a recording of driver Pereira, now 45, calling for help. "Please, please, call the police," he is heard urging. The sound of gunshots is then heard, and Pereira exclaims, "Shit!"
Chalmers had shot him in the face with a 9mm Browning semiautomatic handgun -- a firearm with a lethal history in Toronto. The firearm had been passed around in Toronto gang circles and was used to kill popular youth worker Kempton Howard in December 2003.
It had been tied to shooting in Scarborough and Whitby. Six months after being used in the Pereira shooting, it was used in a shooting at the Malvern Town Centre. Police didn't get the firearm off the street until September 2006, when they seized it at a Scarborough apartment while investigating Chalmers.
Although investigators suspected Chalmers had used the gun, they couldn't link it to him until his then-girlfriend Vanesse Lewis told them he confessed to her that he had shot Pereira. She repeated the claim on the witness stand, saying Chalmers told her that he had aimed at people who were beating up his friend but hit the driver instead.
Cremer said her client says there was no such confession. However, the defence called no evidence. Chalmers did not testify, which is his right as the burden of proof is on the Crown.
There was a text message entered into evidence: "Yo I did the wrong man." Cramer tried to minimize that evidence, saying there was no evidence of who said what. The phone had been registered to three people.
Crown prosecutor Josh Levy had argued the message corroborated Lewis's testimony.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Chris Eby