Kale Gabriel must serve a minimum of 13 years in prison for the murder of Ryan White in north-end Halifax in 2010.
Today, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice imposed the period Gabriel must serve before he can begin applying for parole.
But Justice Jamie Campbell stressed Gabriel has a life sentence.
"Kale Gabriel will never be a free man," Campbell said in his decision.
"He will never experience freedom in the way that others do."
In addition to his prison sentence, Gabriel faces a lifetime weapons ban and a sample of his DNA goes in a national data bank.
He's asked that he be able to serve his sentence in an Ontario prison so he can be closer to family.
Gabriel, 28, was convicted of second-degree murder more than a year ago at a judge and jury trial. His sentencing had been delayed while special assessments were prepared.
Gabriel identifies as both African Nova Scotian and Mi'kmaq. Two separate cultural assessments were prepared to look at whether his ethnic background should have any impact on the sentence he receives.
Assessments for Indigenous people, known as Gladue reports after a Supreme Court of Canada decision by that name, are fairly common. An assessment of a person's African heritage is relatively new and uncommon.
"I think the decision makes it clear that people of African Nova Scotian descent, while not recognized by the constitution, is definitely a distinct group of people that the judiciary needs to look at in a unique way," Gabriel's lawyer, Geoff Newton, said outside court.
A need for deterrence
Campbell said both assessments were helpful to his consideration, but they didn't make it any easier. In the end, the judge cited a need for deterrence in settling on the 13-year minimum.
"The community cannot tolerate crack dealers armed with guns settling their disputes in the streets," Campbell said.
Court was told that Gabriel and White, 21, had previous angry encounters on the day White was killed. White was apparently upset Gabriel was selling crack cocaine in the Mulgrave Park neighbourhood that White considered his territory.
When Gabriel learned White was sitting outside near his home, he took a handgun and a group of friends and went out to confront him. Gabriel kicked White — who was sitting unarmed on the ground — in the head.
The two men then started struggling. Gabriel pulled the handgun out of the waistband of his pants and shot White once. He died later in hospital.
Powerful victim impact statements
Campbell spoke of the powerful and emotional victim impact statements both of White's parents gave earlier in this sentencing process.
"There will be no justice for Ryan White in this," Campbell said. "No sentence imposed can bring him back."
The defence had asked Campbell to consider sentencing Gabriel to the minimum for murder: ten years of parole ineligibility. The Crown asked for 15 years.
The case was unsolved for years until a witness agreed to testify for chance at a $150,000 reward under the province's unsolved crimes program. The Crown said it was good that people came forward, even if it took a while.
"It's a long time for Kale Gabriel to have it hanging over his head," Crown prosecutor Rick Woodburn said.
"And a little message to anyone else out there who's done a crime like this: The police don't sleep when it comes to crimes like this."