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(Posted 11:30 a.m., May 31)
First degree murder charges laid nine months after Blackburn Hamlet shooting

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

After a nine-month investigation police have made an arrest in the August, 2012 drive-by shooting of Levy Kasende (pictured). File photo

A 24-year-old Ottawa man has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection with the drive-by shooting death of Levy Kasende in Blackburn Hamlet last August.

Mike Belleus, 24, was arrested early Thursday morning along with four other "persons of interest". The four were all released after being interviewed by police, leaving Belleus as the lone suspect.

The arrests and arraignment are just the latest twists in a case that was made difficult due to the reluctance of witnesses to come forward with any information.

The only evidence the police had to work with was the calibre of bullet that killed Kasende and a burned out 2004 Mazda MPV that police found on Rockdale Road near Vars the night of the murder. The vehicle was reportedly stolen and matched the description of the minivan that was used in the shooting.

A potential break in the case came in the form of a letter that was mailed to police in March. The letter contained information which resulted in police searching a field near Vars for the murder weapon believed to be a .357 magnum.

Police have not released either the contents of the letter or any inormation in regards to who sent it. They haven't even said whether or not the weapon was found all of which will come out during the pre-trial.

Kasende was gunned down in the early hours of Aug. 25 outside the Innes Road townhouse where his former girlfriend, Sarah Labib, 21, and their daughter, Jayla-Marie, lived at the time.

Minutes before Kasende was shot, Marisa Titus, a friend of Labib, said he borrowed her phone and spoke with someone for 30 minutes. She didn’t know who he called, but said he appeared “calm” when he returned.

Police sources have confirmed that Kasende and the man charged with his murder knew each other. In fact, according to a source interviewed by the Ottawa Citizen, Kasende shot Belleus in the shoulder on Canada Day in 2010, however, nothing is known of the circumstances surrounding that shooting, or whether or not Kasende faced any charges as a result.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Belleus was arrested in 2008 along with five other people after a Mac’s Milk was robbed at gunpoint. In the fall of 2010, he was arrested at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre for trespassing and police found he was carrying a loaded gun in a plastic bag.

Belleus was not convicted of those charges but, at the time, police said he was known to them. His criminal record does include several convictions for drug possession, one related to drug trafficking and one for resisting a public officer. Penalties for those crimes ranged from a $30 fine to 60 days in jail.

Belleus’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 7 by video.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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