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Regina man who killed someone in dispute over $20 could see less prison time

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A man who shot and killed someone following a dispute over $20 may be spending less time behind bars.

Following a 2020 jury trial, Chad Barre was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Justin Langan — a crime that comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

In a ruling issued last week, the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan downgraded the conviction to second-degree murder due to concerns about the instructions the jury received.

Langan was fatally shot in his Regina home on Feb. 18, 2018 after Barre and another man arrived brandishing a shotgun and demanding $20 allegedly owed for a methamphetamine purchase.

During Barre's trial, Langan's wife said she tried to stop the men from taking the couple's television in lieu of the debt.

After a "tug of war" over the TV, she said she ended up on the floor and Langan came towards her to help when he was shot.

Barre and the other man left the home with the television in tow and drove away in a truck.

The Court of Appeal's decision largely hinged on whether the jury had enough information to decide if Langan was unlawfully confined during the encounter, an act that would elevate the conviction to first-degree murder.

According to the decision, the Crown argued confinement does not necessarily mean "absolute physical control" and can instead take the form of fear and intimidation.

The Court of Appeal felt the testimony of Langan's wife was not enough to establish that the alleged confinement occurred and that — if it did — it was sufficiently linked to Langan's killing to warrant a first-degree murder conviction.

"The trial judge acknowledged the issues on the evidence and the applicable law but unfortunately failed to adequately equip the jury to address this central issue," the decision said.

While Barre's downgraded conviction of second-degree murder still comes with a life sentence, he could be eligible for parole in as few as ten years based on the outcome of sentencing submissions the Crown and defence are expected to make to the Court of Appeal. 

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