What we know about Justin Bone, the man accused of killing two men in Edmonton’s Chinatown

Court records show Bone has a long history of criminal behaviour, including for prior alleged offenses in the Chinatown area

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The man accused of killing two members of Edmonton’s Chinatown community made a brief court appearance Friday — his latest in a long history with the justice system.

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A report filed after a previous conviction said Justin Francis Bone’s offending has roots in his troubled childhood.

Bone, 36, is accused of fatally beating Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang outside the Chinatown-area businesses where they worked on May 18. Both men were in the 60s, and their deaths prompted a public outcry, including Justice Minister Tyler Shandro’s order to Edmonton city council to create a “public safety plan” for the city’s core.

A CBC report later revealed that Bone — who was on release for another offense — was dropped off by RCMP officers in west Edmonton three days before Trang and Hoang were killed, in violation of a court condition for him not to be in the city of Edmonton unsupervised.

Bone appeared by video from the Edmonton Remand Center Friday morning for a routine pre-trial court appearance. Defense lawyer David Wolsey asked that the case be adjourned to June 30 to receive evidence disclosure from the Crown.

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Bone — who wore an orange correctional system jumpsuit, his head shaved on the sides — shifted back and forth on his feet in the video conference cell and spoke only to confirm he could hear the video feed.

Accused previously arrested for B&E in Chinatown area

Court records show Bone has a long history of criminal behaviour, including for prior alleged offenses in the Chinatown area.

Between 2005 and 2018 — when his criminal record was compiled for a pre-sentence report — Bone accumulated more than 30 convictions, ranging from failures to comply with court orders to escaping lawful custody to assault with a weapon.

The longest sentence Bone served in that period was three years for a 2009 robbery conviction. His other sentences were measured in days and months.

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In the fall of 2018, Bone was convicted of two sexual interference charges and received two years in jail.

Since that conviction, he has served time for assault causing bodily harm, mischief, and failing to comply with a probation order.

Photographs of Ban Phuc Hoang, 61, and Hung Trang, 64, two slain members of Edmonton's Chinatown community, are displayed in a shop window in Edmonton's Chinatown on June 1, 2022.
Photographs of Ban Phuc Hoang, 61, and Hung Trang, 64, two slain members of Edmonton’s Chinatown community, are displayed in a shop window in Edmonton’s Chinatown on June 1, 2022. Photo by Larry Wong /post media

Other charges against Bone have been tossed, including a raft of eight charges — among them aggravated assault — stayed by a judge in November 2020, and a separate assault causing bodily harm charge stayed the following year.

More recently, on May 4, Crown prosecutors withdrew a July 2021 charge that accused Bone of breaking into a home in the 10600 Block of 96 Street — one block off Chinatown’s main drag.

At the time Hoang and Trang were killed, Bone was facing another charge of breaking into an apartment unit on 106 Avenue in McCauley. A trial for that charge has been set for December.

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Gladue report details difficult upbringing

Following his 2018 sexual interference convictions, Bone requested a Gladue report, a type of document created following the Supreme Court’s 1999 decision instructing courts to consider alternatives to prison for Indigenous offenders.

The reports detail the ways government policies such as residential schools and the foster care system may have contributed to an Indigenous person’s criminal behaviour.

According to the report, Bone was unaware of his specific Indigenous heritage. An uncle, however, told the report writer that Bone’s family originally belonged to the Papaschase First Nation. The nation was a signatory to Treaty 6 in 1877 and was given a reserve in the Mill Woods area, which descendants claim was systematically dismantled to make way for the railroad and the growing city.

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Bone was born in Lac La Biche. According to the report, he never knew his father, while his mother — who was occasionally homeless — could not be located for an interview.

The uncle told the writer that Bone’s grandmother attended residential school, and that Bone’s mother and her siblings were apprehended by the government at a young age. I have claimed Bone’s family of her moved frequently to evade officials with children’s services.

Bone said he was abused by his step-father growing up, including being beaten with electrical cords, sticks and wooden spoons. Drinking, drug use and domestic violence were common in the home. Bone said the family was evicted frequently, and lived for a time in a school bus and in a greenhouse. Bone described selling his toys outside one of their apartments to earn money.

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At around age 12, Bone began regularly using marijuana and drinking alcohol. He completed school to Grade 9 and, when he wasn’t in jail, worked in construction. At one point, he fell and injured his back and “self medicated to be able to continue working,” the report says. Bone said he used crack cocaine and methamphetamine, which he believed contributed to some of his behaviour.

After Trang and Hoang were killed, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi criticized the provincial government, saying Bone had been released on orders to attend a drug treatment facility that had no available beds.

Shandro’s office later disputed Sohi’s statement, claiming an “alternative addiction treatment facility without a wait-list was made available,” without offering specifics.

In 2018, Bone told the Gladue report writer he had previously tried to get into drug treatment programs, but was either waitlisted or lost his spot because he was incarcerated.

“Mr. Bone is hopeful he will be accepted into a treatment program for substance abuse upon being released from jail,” the report’s author wrote in 2018.

He added that Bone “now realizes he is able to change the outcome of his life.”

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