September 25, 2015 - 2:00 PM
PENTICTON - Crown and defence lawyers in a sentencing hearing for a man accused of murdering two Princeton residents and wounding a third are recommending sentences almost fifteen years apart.
In Penticton Supreme Court today, Sept. 25, Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski sought a prison term that would see convicted murderer John Ike Koopmans, 52, behind bars until he is 82 years old.
Dubenski told Justice Miriam Maisonville Crown is seeking life imprisonment without parole for 30 years. If that seems particularly long for a sentence in Canada, that's because it's backed by new legislation in Bill C-48 providing stiffer sentences for multiple murders.
Defence lawyer Don Skogstad said outside of court he would seek a 17.5 year sentence, less time served. Koopmans has been incarcerated since the shooting.
Dubenski briefly recounted the events of the night of March 30, 2013, when Koopmans, drunk and angry, stormed out of his former girlfriend’s house and walked to a rural property just outside of Princeton, where he shot Keith Wharton, 43, and Rose Fox, 32, to death and wounded Bradley Martin.
Dubenski said the reasons behind the killings were not known, but he believed the shootings were motivated by Koopmans’ anger over a break in that had taken place on his property weeks earlier. Dubenski said the manner of killing was “efficient and intended,” characterizing the act as an execution done with “callous disregard for human life.”
Friends and family of Keith Wharton and Rose Fox were also present in the gallery. Members of the family wept as they heard Dubenski read a selection of 10 victim impact statements.
Bradley Martin wrote of the nightmares, financial loss and emotional toil the shooting had on him.
Carole Wharton, Keith's mother, wrote of “indescribable horror” she felt upon discovering the bodies. She believed her son was still alive when she discovered them, but could not get help to him because the scene was locked down as Koopmans was still on the loose following the shootings. She wrote she “prayed daily for peace of mind" and that she continued to see a psychiatrist and a psychologist years after the incident. She wrote she knew Koopmans and liked him, now struggled daily to understand why he did it.
Both counsel are expected to continue their submissions through Friday afternoon. Judge Maisonville is not expected to make a decision until October 6.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015