Murder trial lawyer Andre Ouellette, left, with co-counsel Kelly Labine speak to media after their client, Edward James Penner, had been found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury in Whitehorse on September 19, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

A B.C. man has been found guilty of first-degree murder for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack in the Yukon.

Edward James Penner, a 22-year-old from Quesnel, B.C, showed no emotion when a Whitehorse jury delivered its verdict the afternoon of Sept. 19 following roughly a day and a half of deliberations.

He also declined the chance to speak before Yukon Supreme Court deputy Justice Scott Brooker handed down the automatic sentence for first-degree murder ⁠— life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Penner’s trial began in late August, with the jury spending just over two weeks listening to evidence painting a grim picture of how Penner and Cormack had ended near a gravel pit off Kilometre 1450 of the Alaska Highway, about 20 minutes from Whitehorse.

There, the two men had walked up a dirt trail, where Penner, in a planned and deliberate manner, shot Cormack once in the head, killing him instantly, the jury was told.

The murder was apparently prompted by a stolen or missing gun; Cormack’s body was discovered on June 28, 2017.

Members of Cormack’s family packed into the courtroom for the verdict, many of them crying and holding on to each other for support as the jury entered the room.

One woman screamed, “Yes!” and burst into loud tears as soon as the jury foreperson said the word “guilty.”

Cormack’s mother and sister, Theresa and Catherine Cormack, respectively, gave emotional victim impact statements shortly after.

“I want to say how much I hate you,” Theresa said. “You are a P.O.S. … You are a coward. I hope you rot in hell.”

Theresa described Cormack as “a loving, tender soul” and “a great person and a good boy” despite his run-ins with the law. Her life had become “a lot harder without my baby boy” as he had been the man in the house, she said, and she now feels like a “prisoner” in her own town, fearful of leaving her home.

The murder devastated her “close-knit family,” Theresa continued, and the family pets still wait for Cormack to come home, with the dog he picked out still sleeping in his bed.

“I just still wait for my boy to come through the front door and yell ‘Hey Momma, what’s up?’” she said. “Do you know how hard it is to say goodbye to my baby boy without getting to see him? No kiss on the cheek, no kiss on the forehead… Do you know how hard it is to explain to a little one what happened to Uncle Adam, and why he went to heaven?”

Cormack’s sister was reprimanded by the judge before she gave her statement because, as she walked to the podium, she had approached Penner and spoke directly to him, pointing and telling him he was “going away.”

“Edward James Penner, Tanner, whatever your freaking name is… You ruined my life on June 28, 2017… You took my baby bro away from me,” she said through heavy sobbing.

Cormack was “one of the kindest people,” Christine said, and was her “partner in crime,” her “little big bro” who always had her back.

“You, Penner, took that all away from me for the rest of my life … He should be here,” she said, describing Penner as a “sick, sick individual.”

“Look at everything you’ve done, everything you said you didn’t do… You obviously have no (conscience), you murderer.

“You have ruined my life forever… Roses are red, violets are black, I want my baby brother back.”

Penner did not show any reaction to the victim impact statements.

“Bye-bye!” someone yelled from the gallery as he was escorted out of the courtroom.

In an interview outside the courthouse, Penner’s lawyer, Andre Ouellette, said he thought the trial “went as well as can be expected, with very serious matters like this.”

“The reaction’s always the same — the jury’s never wrong. Ordinary people hear the evidence … When the jury’s pronounced its verdict, justice is done,” he said.

Neither Ouellette or his co-counsel, Kelly Labine, had had a chance to speak with Penner post-verdict.

“I think Mr. Penner heard the evidence the same way we all did,” he said, when asked about his client’s reaction. “It was a serious case. There was substantial evidence, some of it was damning, some of it, in my view at least, was very ambiguous, but the jury heard it and they’ve made their minds… We conducted our case the very best we could. I’m satisfied we conducted it well.”

Whether there will be an appeal, Ouellette said, is up to Penner.

Crown attorneys Amy Porteous and Tom Lemon declined to comment on the outcome, other than Lemon saying, “We worked very hard, I can tell you that.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley Arts Council keeping the arts alive during pandemic

Centre 64 is Kimberley remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but… Continue reading

The Weed Warrior: an invasive weed, new to the East Kootenay

Wild Parsnip is a plant that most of us don’t want to have a Close Encounter of any Kind with

Selkirk graduation in Kimberley will look very different this year

We have all had to change things in the face of the… Continue reading

Council to write letter of support for Kimberley Dynamiters

KIJHL teams all seeking financial support from the provincial government in wake of COVID-19

City Hall reopens Monday, June 1 with new safety measures in place

After carefully plotting out how and when to re-open its facilities while… Continue reading

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Grieving together, but apart: How funeral homes are handling the pandemic

‘Hugs are so important and right now hugs can’t happen’

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Most Read