Akil Whyte sentenced to life in prison for Hamilton man's shooting death

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Akil Whyte was convicted of first-degree murder last April in the shooting death of a Hamilton father near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue West that happened in 2017. (Toronto Police Service - image credit)
Akil Whyte was convicted of first-degree murder last April in the shooting death of a Hamilton father near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue West that happened in 2017. (Toronto Police Service - image credit)

A Toronto man who was found guilty of first-degree murder earlier this year for the point-blank shooting death of Leonard Pinnock has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Superior Court Justice Peter Bawden handed down the mandatory life sentence for Akil Whyte in the judge-alone trial earlier this week.

"This was an assassination," Bawden wrote in his decision in April. "It was obviously planned, and the only reasonable inference that I can draw from the circumstances is that it was also carefully deliberated.

"I am satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that this was a first-degree murder. I find Mr. Whyte guilty of that offence."

Whyte was on Toronto police's most-wanted list in connection with Pinnock's death in 2017. He was later arrested in 2019 in Atlanta, Ga., before he was returned to Canada to stand trial.

Hamilton man Pinnock, 33, was sitting in his car waiting for a friend in the parking lot of a strip mall near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue West when two suspects fired multiple shots into the driver's window. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Surveillance video showed two suspects in hooded jackets approach the car from the front and back and fire several shots in the span of about 17 seconds before running away.

Toronto Police
Toronto Police

In his decision, Bawden wrote that there are "many gaps in the evidence" as to why Pinnock was targeted, and how his killers knew he would be parked in the lot the night he died.

Defence lawyers suggested the shooting might have been a "sudden and impulsive decision to kill," Bawden wrote, but the judge noted there was no evidence to support that submission.

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