Detroit teen guilty in slayings of former restaurant employers

A Wayne County Circuit Court jury deliberated about three hours before finding Justin Blackshere guilty of first-degree murder. He faces mandatory life imprisonment at a sentencing hearing scheduled for Sept. 7.

Blackshere was charged in the Jan. 2 deaths of Cheli’s Chili Bar manager Megan Soroka, 49, and chef Mark Barnard, 52. Blackshere had been fired in November and told police he had gone to the restaurant to get his job as a busboy back.

Seven witnesses, including Chelios, identified Blackshere as the person shown on restaurant surveillance cameras on the morning of the killings.

Defence lawyer Earl Washington told the Detroit News that he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

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“I’m just sorry this happened. My grandson needs help more than anything,” Blackshere’s grandfather Greg Hayes of Detroit told the Detroit Free Press.

In a written statement released by the Red Wings, Chelios thanked police “for their professionalism through this entire process” and also thanked prosecutors and the team.

“The way everyone pulled together during this tragedy makes me proud to call Detroit home,” he said.

Relatives of the victims issued a statement thanking police and prosecutors but declined comment after the verdict.