Life sentence for Schwieg’s killer

Bruce McKenzie pled guilty to Justin Schwieg’s murder last Thursday

On Feb. 8, Bruce Keno Elijah McKenzie pled guilty to murdering Queen’s student Justin Schwieg in
March 2005.

McKenzie, 28, was charged with second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon. Justice Richard Byers sentenced him to life in prison, with at least 10 years before he’s eligible for parole.

The Kingston Whig-Standard reported that Assistant Crown Attorney John Skoropada read out an agreed-to statement of facts to be included in the court record.

According to Skoropada’s statement, on the night of March 24, 2005, Schwieg was at A.J.’s Hangar, since renamed Alehouse, shortly after midnight. He and several friends were at the second floor of the bar when McKenzie approached them around 2 a.m., “enraged, believing that something had been thrown or spilled on him from the area where Justin and his girlfriend were standing.”

McKenzie confronted Schwieg and, after a brief confrontation, pulled out a knife and stabbed Schwieg six times: twice in the neck area, twice in his left arm and twice in his upper back.

Schwieg died two hours later in hospital, surrounded by his parents, friends, football coach and teammates.

McKenzie left the bar and went to his parents’ home in Brampton, where he remained until the following day at 3 a.m. after hearing that the police were looking for him. He turned himself in the next day and has been in custody ever since.

Schwieg, a Kingston native, was a fifth-year student who had recently completed a degree in biology and was about to begin a PhysEd degree. He played football with the Golden Gaels since his first year at Queen’s, and worked as a bouncer at The Brass pub on Princess Street.

Justin’s parents, Christine McLaughlin and Leon Schwieg, weren’t in court during the sentencing but excerpts of their victim-impact statements are posted on the Whig’s website.

Justin’s father’s statement recalled the moment he found out about his son’s death. “I received a call from a friend from Kingston at approximately 4 a.m. on March 25, 2005. I was told there was an incident at A.J.’s Hangar and that Justin was hit with a beer bottle.

“I called the hospital and identified myself as Justin’s father. I asked if I could speak with my son. I asked how he was and if his mother was there. I was told she was out getting a coffee and that they would have her call me when she returned. Christine called back shortly after.
“When I asked how Justin was doing, she said it couldn’t be worse. Still thinking he was struck with a
beer bottle, I asked ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘He’s dead.’
“My mind snapped. I just started screaming.”

In her statement, McLaughlin said she felt facing her son’s killer would be too much for her to handle.
“Justin would not have expected someone to act as his murderer did,” McLaughlin’s statement read.

“Justin was innocent and naive, apparently a fatal flaw. It would not have occurred to him that
anything like this could happen in Kingston, his city. He was so proud to say that he was a local boy and I believe he would have remained in Kingston forever.

“Justin would have lived nearby and most probably taught at the same high school he attended. He
would have taught the youth of our city and nurtured future football players. He would have been an
incredible role model.

“All that is lost now, all that is gone, and what for?”

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