Murder conviction stands for former fugitive who fled to Vietnam, rules province's top court

The first-degree murder conviction of a former fugitive who fled Calgary ahead of his trial stands after the province's top court dismissed Nathan Gervais's appeal. 

Lukas Strasser-Hird, 18, was swarmed, beaten and stabbed to death outside a nightclub in 2013. 

After fleeing the country in 2016, Gervais was eventually arrested and returned to Canada in 2018. He was convicted of first-degree murder in May of last year.

The Alberta Court of Appeal called the killing a "tragic event" and ruled Court of Queen's Bench Justice William Tilleman did not err in finding the victim was forcibly confined during the attack, which led to the first-degree murder conviction for Gervais.

Gervais was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner says he will consult with his client before deciding whether to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Appeal arguments were made in early May by Hepner and prosecutor Julie Morgan. 

Gervais asked the province's top court to substitute an acquittal, order a new trial or substitute a conviction of second-degree murder.


Nov. 23, 2013

In 2013, Strasser-Hird was just back from a year in South America.

At the Vinyl nightclub, he overheard someone call the bouncer a "dirty spic" and confronted the group, which included Gervais, over the racist remark.

Outside the bar, Strasser-Hird was surrounded and shoved around until a bouncer grabbed the teenager and brought him back inside.

Then, staff at the night club led Strasser-Hird out the back door, where a group of angry men were waiting for a second attack.

Gervais confessed

The trial judge called Gervais's actions "predatory and calculated." Before waiting in the alley for his victim, Gervais had fetched a knife from his car, which was parked across the street from the bar. 

As he was kicked, punched and stabbed, the victim begged for his life, according to witnesses. 

Following the attack, Gervais confessed to several people that he had stabbed Strasser-Hird.

In 2016, just before Gervais was to go on trial alongside four others, he fled Canada. 

Franz Cabrera and Assmar Shlah were ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder, while Joch Pouk was found guilty of manslaughter. A fourth man was acquitted.

In February 2018, Gervais was arrested in Vietnam and returned to Calgary to face his murder charge.