A man who acted as a hitman for organized crime in four separate shootings he allegedly carried out in 2012 saw one of the murder charges he faced be placed under a stay of proceedings on Friday after a Superior Court judge ruled it took too long for the Crown to bring him to trial.
Ryan Wolfson, 45, smiled when Justice Guy Cournoyer ruled the Crown created too many delays in bringing him to a trial that was supposed to begin in September. Last year, the Crown made a decision to have Wolfson undergo two murder trials for the crime spree he went on in 2012 as opposed to having one trial an all charges last fall. He was convicted of one murder in October but on Friday a stay of proceedings was placed on a different murder charge.
The decision makes Wolfson the second person charged with murder in Quebec who has seen their case placed under a stay of proceedings because of the Supreme Court of Canada decision made last summer, which is known as the Jordan ruling.
Wolfson was charged, in November 2012, with the murder of Pierre-Paul Fortier, a man who was shot, on Oct. 18, 2012, in back of a hotel in St-Sauveur.
The fact that he is already serving a life sentence for murder meant little to Fortier’s parents, who were in attendance at the Montreal courthouse Friday when Cournoyer made his decision.
“It mocks justice. They had enough to convict him,” said Fortier’s father, Jean-Jacques Fortier. “I find it ridiculous to put this all on the back of (the Crown).”
On Oct. 7, a jury at the St-Jérôme courthouse found Wolfson guilty of the first-degree murder of Frederick Murdock, a man who was acting as a bodyguard for Vincent Pietrantonio, on Oct. 10, 2012, when a gunman burst into Pietrantonio’s home — on Chertsey Rd. in Ste-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson, about 80 kilometres northwest of Montreal — and shot both men. The same jury also found Wolfson guilty of the attempted murder of Pietrantonio as well as an attempt made on the life of Pietrantonio’s son, Tommy, who was shot, on Sept. 29, 2012, inside a pub in Ste-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson.
Later that same month, Superior Court Justice André Vincent sentenced Wolfson to two 14-year sentences for the attempted murders along with the automatic life sentence he received for having murdered Murdock.
The Crown’s theory during the trial was that Wolfson, a longtime associate of the Hells Angels, carried out both shootings while acting as a hitman for Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 40, one of two men who would later pull off a brazen escape from the St-Jérôme Detention Centre, on March 17, 2013. Wolfson was arrested with Hudon-Barbeau, on Nov. 3, 2012, while both men were at a strip club in downtown Montreal. Wolfson was found to be in possession of the firearm used to kill Murdock. During Wolfson’s trial last fall, the jury was told that on the same day Tommy Pietrantonio was shot he had sent a text message to Hudon-Barbeau demanding that Hudon-Barbeau pay his debts. Pietrantonio referred to Hudon-barbeau as “garbage” in the message. Hudon-Barbeau is alleged to have replied that threats “bring action.”
Wolfson was also charged with the attempted murder of Dannick Lessard, 36, a hockey player who had just completed a season with the Windsor Wild of the North American Hockey League. At the time of the shooting, on Oct. 27, 2012, Lessard was working at a bar in Mirabel. Lessard was struck by nine bullets but somehow managed to survive.