EDMONTON - A 13-year-old cried as he appeared briefly in youth court Monday to face first-degree murder charges in the shooting deaths of two convenience store clerks.
The chubby-faced boy, who cannot be identified, covered his face with his hands, then wiped his wet eyes with an inmate-issued T-shirt.
One woman in the courtroom said "Love you" and another waved at the teen before a sheriff led him away.
The women and other people they were with refused to talk with reporters outside court. A defence lawyer had the case put over to Jan. 4.
Police allege the boy was one of three masked robbers behind deadly holdups at two different Mac's stores in Edmonton early Friday. Two clerks working alone in the stores were shot dead within minutes of each other.
Officers responding to a panic alarm found Karanpal Singh Bhangu, 35, shot in the stomach. He died of his injuries in hospital. A delivery man called 911 from the second store. He had found a trail of blood leading to a storage room, where 41-year-old Ricky Cenabre was lying dead.
Court records show the 13-year-old, who can't be named, was already facing charges from earlier this year.
In May, he was charged with weapons offences for allegedly carrying nunchuks and pruning shears. In October, he was arrested on other counts that included personal robberies and assault with a weapon — bear spray.
A judge released the boy on an undertaking on Nov. 20 and imposed conditions that included he live with his grandmother.
Two men co-accused in the Mac's slayings, 24-year-old Laylin Delorme and 27-year-old Colton Steinhauer, also appeared in court Monday on murder charges. Their cases were put over to Jan. 11.
Court records show they both have lengthy criminal records.
At the time of the convenience store killings, Steinhauer was wanted on warrants for failing to comply with a probation order.
In June, he pleaded guilty to uttering threats and was sentenced to three months in jail and 18 months of probation. He has several other convictions dating back to 2010, including assaults and obstructing a peace officer.
Delorme's longest sentence — two years — came in 2011 for possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking. A year earlier, he was given a lifetime firearms prohibition after pleading guilty to assault with a weapon and theft.
He was last in court in October 2014, when he pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and mischief. He was given six months in jail and one year of probation.
Friends said Bhangu had emigrated from India three months earlier, along with his six-year-old son, to reunite with his wife, a private school teacher. Cenabre moved five years ago from the Philippines, where he had a wife and teenage son.
Police Chief Rod Knecht has said video footage from the stores showed the two workers co-operated with the robbers, who made off with small amounts of cash.
He called the killings "absolutely unnecessary, gratuitous — evil.''