BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
January 21, 2014
For The New Brunswick Beacon
Harry Edward Charlie McKenna, 48, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison with parole eligibility in 15 years for the murder of Kirk Blair.
A jury in New Brunswick’s Court of Queen’s Bench found McKenna guilty of second-degree murder in November.
“Mr. Blair did not stand a chance that night in defending himself,” said Justice Judy L. Clendening, who highlighted that the victim was unarmed.
On the evening of April 30, McKenna left his mobile home and crossed the property he shared with Blair, who was watching an NHL game with his wife. He knocked on the door of Blair’s mobile home, and when Blair opened the door, McKenna shot him in the side of his torso.
As Kirk lay bleeding on the ground, McKenna asked Kirk’s wife, Johanna Blair, for his PIN number. She did not know it, and McKenna told her to ask Kirk or else he would shoot her. After some struggle, she wrote it on a sheet of paper and gave it to McKenna.
Moments later, Johanna hit McKenna over the head with a frying pan and he left. She tried to call 911, but McKenna fired a shot through one of her windows and reentered her home.
He took Johanna over to his trailer and stashed his gun inside a couch. He kept her there until the RCMP arrived 30 minutes later, and she escaped, running and screaming.
McKenna cooperated with the police and turned himself in. Kirk was not breathing when the paramedics arrived.
“I would suggest it was an unprovoked, violent offence in which he [McKenna] killed him [Kirk Blair] in his own home and made his wife watch him bleed out on the floor,” said Crown Prosecutor Christopher Lavigne. “She couldn’t render assistance to her dying husband.”
“Ultimately, the last words uttered by the victim were his pin number, it seems”
McKenna, who was unemployed and has a history with drugs and alcohol, has a hefty criminal record with over 35 convictions between 1982 and 2010. The offences include multiple assaults, uttering threats, resisting police officers, breaking and entering, possession of narcotics, dangerous driving, impaired driving and contempt of court.
“I would suggest that Mr. McKenna knew what he was doing the entire time,” said the Crown. “He acted out of anger.”
The Crown read parts of the victim impact statements from Kirk Blair’s wife, mother, brother and daughter. All of the statements highlighted that this was a horrendous act that brought much pain and suffering to the Blair family.
“Thinking about this horrible act, it plays over and over causing many sleepless nights. There is nothing worse than losing a child,” wrote mother Helen Blair in her statement.
In another, Kirk’s brother Michael wrote that he hopes his family can begin to heal when justice is served.
“Hopefully we can move forward and forget the circumstances that caused his unnecessary loss.”
The Crown requested a period of 17 or 18 years where McKenna would be ineligible for parole due to his high risk of killing again.
“I’m suggesting the court finds there is little prospect of rehabilitation,” said Lavigne, who compared the case to that of Adam Wade Nash, a New Brunswick man who shot his elder brother twice in the head in 2006.
In that case, Justice Clendening, the same judge who presided over McKenna’s case, originally sentenced Nash to an ineligibility of parole for 20 years, but the sentence was viewed as harsh and the court of appeal later reduced it to 12 years.
The Crown argued that Nash’s case had many mitigating circumstances that McKenna’s case lacked, including that Nash was drunk, and that he should receive a harsher sentence.
During the trial, one of the witnesses told the court that McKenna had spent the day visiting around the Geary area and had probably drank 15 or 16 beer. He told the court that “you couldn’t have got more drunker.”
The night of his arrest, McKenna denied being drunk and told an officer he reached his “breaking point and alcohol had fuck all to do with it.”
The Defense suggested that the case was no worse than Nash’s, and McKenna should receive the same sentence. The jury who found McKenna guilty chose not to recommend when he should be eligible for parole.
In the pre-sentence report, McKenna told the author that he never got a hug, kiss or bedtime story as a child and that he was just a ‘bad kid.’ He seems to show no signs of remorse.
“I spoke with him yesterday and he told me ‘I feel bad because I miss him, he was a good friend of mine’, but I don’t think what he’s feeling is remorse,” said McKenna’s attorney.
Bound at the ankles, McKenna wore light wash jeans and a navy blue henley shirt. A small, thumb-sized tattoo was visible a few inches below his ear on the right side of his neck. His white hair and facial hair was well kept and he wore a wedding ring on his ring finger. He married his common law partner last Saturday at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre.
McKenna’s face showed no change of expression throughout the hearing.
“This case was brutal, violent and senseless. It was made worse by Mrs. Blair having to watch her husband gasp out his pin number,” said Justice Clendening.
McKenna did not seem to be upset by the sentence. He offered a small smile to his wife and waved to her as a he left the courtroom.