Killers get life with no parole for 17, 20 years for brutal 'execution style' murder at Edmonton party

Hamza Mohamed, an oilsands safety worker, was killed “execution style” during a shooting at a 2021 party in Edmonton.

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Christopher Wilson shook his head slightly as the judge announced the sentence. Abdullahi Yalahow, beside him in the prisoner’s box, stared straight ahead, showing no reaction at all. Wilson and Yalahow were sentenced to life in prison Friday for the 2021 “execution style” killing of Hamza Mohamed at a crowded party in Edmonton in 2021.

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Wilson will have to wait 20 years before applying for parole, while Yalahow will be ineligible for 17 years. There is no guarantee either will ever be released. Court of King’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil said the actions of both men “must be condemned in the strongest terms,” calling their use of handguns in a packed community league hall “outrageous.”

The sentence brings to an end one set of trials in the Aug. 29, 2021, shooting, which injured multiple bystanders attending a Caribbean-themed party at Duggan Community League Hall. Another man, who set off the deadly chain of events by opening fire on Mohamed, will go to trial on manslaughter charges next year.

Mohamed’s sister, who asked not to be named, said she was “happy” to see her 22-year-old brother’s killers taken away to prison.

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An IWI Jericho 941 9 mm pistol found on the floor of Duggan community hall after a shooting Aug. 29, 2021. The gun tested positive for Abdullahi Yalahow’s DNA. Supplied Photo
An IWI Jericho 941 9 mm pistol found on the floor of Duggan community hall after a shooting Aug. 29, 2021. The gun tested positive for Abdullahi Yalahow’s DNA. Supplied Photo

Hail of bullets

The shooting started after 4 a.m. in a hall packed with 150 partygoers enjoying a night of drinks, food and dancing. Mohamed — an oilsands safety worker — was hit in the back and fell to the floor paralyzed. The first shooter fled.

Yalahow then pulled out his own gun and tried to kill Mohamed, but missed and was himself hit when the wounded man returned fire. A security guard also intervened, knocking the gun from Yalahow’s hands.

As Mohamed and Yalahow traded fire from the floor, Wilson snuck around, punched Mohamed and took his gun. He stood over the unarmed, wounded man and within seconds fired four rounds, three of which hit Mohamed in the head. He then pistol whipped the body 17 times.

When the few remaining people who remained in the hall cried out for him to stop, Wilson screamed threats at them.

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Wilson later abandoned the pistol outside a nearby elementary school. He returned to the scene and told a 911 operator some “Jamaican guys” had done the shooting. He and Yalahow were later arrested and have been in custody since.

Police work at the scene of a multiple shooting at the Duggan Community Hall, 3728 106 St., in Edmonton on Monday Aug. 30, 2021. Photo by David Bloom

‘Very grave concerns’ about release

Lawyers for both men argued the Crown hadn’t proven either had the intent necessary for the killing to be murder. They characterized the shooting as a fight that got out of hand, rather than a plot to kill.

At trial last year, Wilson claimed he was blackout drunk and woke up in the police station the morning after the shooting with no clue why he was there. He maintained that story at sentencing, expressing incredulity at being a “lifer” for “one stupid, very, very drunk incident.”

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Despite insisting he was blacked out, Wilson suggested he acted only to protect Yalahow after his friend had been shot. He maintained there was no plan to kill Mohamed. He claims he was “mortified” to see video of himself executing Mohamed and brutalizing his body. Yalahow, 35, called no evidence declined Belzil’s invitation to speak.

The jury did not believe either defendant. Both were convicted of second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10-25 years. Yalahow was convicted as an “abettor” to Wilson’s actions.

Of the 12 jurors, 10 recommended both men be given the maximum parole ineligibility period, one suggested 20 years and another declined to make a recommendation.

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Belzil said both accused deserved more than the minimum 10 years because they have criminal records and were under lifetime handgun prohibitions at the time of the murder. Wilson, 39, deserved a harsher sentence because of the violence inflicted on Mohamed’s body, and the fact he threatened potential witnesses and lied to police, Belzil said.

The jury recommendations show they had “very grave concerns” about either man rejoining society, he added.

Zachary Al-Khatib, Yalahow’s lawyer, said his client has yet to decide whether to launch an appeal. He suggested the Crown may have tainted the jury by claiming there was a plan to murder Mohamed, despite the fact neither accused was charged with first-degree murder.

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