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One of six charged in Saint John homicide appears for sentencing hearing

Justin Breau, 39, was stabbed to death on Aug. 17, 2022, in his Saint John apartment.  (Justin Breau/Facebook - image credit)
Justin Breau, 39, was stabbed to death on Aug. 17, 2022, in his Saint John apartment. (Justin Breau/Facebook - image credit)

One of the six people charged in the 2022 death of Justin Breau is scheduled to be sentenced next month after a sentencing hearing was held in Saint John on Wednesday.

Dustin Trey Walker-Hammond, 25, was originally charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty in January to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Because there are others awaiting a jury trial on first-degree murder, there is a publication ban in effect until all other bans in the case are lifted. The ban prevents much of what was heard in court on Wednesday from being published, including the details of an agreed statement of facts between the Crown and defence.

At the time of his death, however, police said Breau died after being stabbed in his Charles Street apartment after three masked men broke in on Aug. 17, 2022.

Between January and March 2023, six people were arrested by Saint John police and eventually charged with first-degree murder.

Police said three masked men in dark clothing had forced their way into an apartment on Charles Street, where Justin Breau was stabbed to death.
Police said three masked men in dark clothing had forced their way into an apartment on Charles Street, where Justin Breau was stabbed to death.

In August 2022, police said three masked men in dark clothing forced their way into an apartment on Charles Street, where Justin Breau was stabbed to death. Six would eventually be charged. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

By April 2023, five were grouped together in one file and Walker-Hammond was left to be tried separately. He was originally scheduled to go to trial next month.

The five others originally charged with first-degree murder include:

  • Charles William Shatford, 48.

  • Donald Robert Walker, 51.

  • Travis Earl Boudreau, 34.

  • Sarah Jean Belzil, 37.

  • Evan Louis Tobias, 29.

Charles Shatford has a well-known connection with Breau, who was found not guilty in December 2020 of murdering Shatford's brother, Mark.

On Monday, Boudreau and Belzil both pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. They will be sentenced on April 5.

Several weeks have been set aside later this year for a jury trial for the three men who remain charged with first-degree murder.

Breau 'should have been safe'

On Wednesday, Breau's mother, Susanne Breau, read the only victim impact statement in the case. She said, "The real victim here is my one and only child, Justin David Breau, a man who should have been safe in his own home."

Breau said, "I expected my son to bury me, not the other way around."

Susanne Breau said her son's death has left two of his three children orphans. Justin Breau is seen here in this file photo taken immediately after a jury found him not guilty of murder in December 2020. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

She said his death left two of his three children without parents, since both of their mothers are also dead. She said she worries about dying before her youngest grandchild turns 18.

Breau said she's had to "be strong for my grandchildren. I am also full of anger. I will not rest or grieve until all involved are sentenced for their involvement in this brutal and senseless killing."

The Crown thinks the appropriate punishment for Walker-Hammond's role is five years in prison, while defence lawyer Annie Maltais suggested time served.

Walker-Hammond was arrested on Jan. 25, 2023.

Maltais said he's been in jail on remand 421 days. Usually the courts give credit of time-and-a-half, which works out to 632 days. She said that should be followed by a lengthy period of probation.

She described Walker-Hammond as 25 and single, with no children. Although he didn't graduate from high school, he did obtain his GED, or high school equivalency.

She said he was very co-operative with the authorities and is taking responsibility for his part in the crime.

She said Walker-Hammond intends to go to college to be a chef and wants to become a "productive member of society."

When he was given a chance to speak at Wednesday's hearing, Walker-Hammond said he's "extremely remorseful for everything that happened."

Court of King's Bench Justice Kathryn Gregory will sentence Walker-Hammond on April 23.