TORONTO -- Two men pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of second-degree murder after the Ontario Court of Appeal granted them a new trial for their conviction in the gangland slaying of a drug dealer.
Edward Hugo Hertrich, 26, and Brian Edward Stewart, 27, both of Toronto, were given mandatory life sentences in 1979 for the first-degree murder of a 29-year-old man.
The 13-week trial saw 70 witnesses.
Hertrich and Stewart appealed the first-degree murder convictions, which do not allow for parole for 25 years. Under the second-degree murder convictions, they can be paroled in 10 years.
The court granted the new trial on the ground the judge erred in denying them the right to be present at all times during their trial.
Tommy Rowan's body was found with six bullet holes and his hands handcuffed behind his back in September 1978 in a shallow grave on a Lindsay, Ont., area farm.