A 30-year-old Kitchener man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in connection with the death of Michael Gibbon.

Gibbon, 60, was killed on Oct. 5, 2015. He was found semi-conscious on the front lawn of a home on Margaret Avenue in Kitchener, having been shot with a crossbow.

The bolt had penetrated his lung and his heart, and paramedics feared that removing it could injure him further. Gibbon was pronounced dead an hour later.

The bizarre manner of his death left the community on edge, as did the fact that it took more than two weeks for any suspects in the case to be publicly identified.

On Oct. 20, Eric Amaral – who had been arrested a week earlier after shooting a police officer with a pellet gun after being pulled over on Ottawa Street – was charged with first-degree murder.

By pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Amaral avoided a trial.

Life in prison remained an automatic sentence, but the lesser conviction meant his parole eligibility could be set as low as 10 years, instead of the 25-year period that comes automatically with a first-degree murder conviction.

Thursday afternoon, his sentence was officially handed down as life in prison with the ability to apply for parole after 14 years.

Court heard that Amaral had been “experimenting” with his crossbow in Breithaupt Prark when he saw Gibbon – who he did not know – aimed at him and fired a bolt. Knowing he had injured the stranger, Amaral then left the scene.

At the time, he was out on bail and under multiple court orders not to be in possession of a crossbow, a pellet gun, or several other weapons.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa