November 23, 2012 - 3:43 PM
A B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced Cory Wolf Swite to life in prison Friday for the second-degree murder of an 85-year-old woman in 2006.
The 26-year-old Penticton man will be eligible to apply for parole in 2020. Swite was arrested for the crime in 2007. The years he's already spent in prison were used against the 13-year total Justice Ian Josephson imposed for parole.
Swite originally was convicted in 2009 of first-degree murder for suffocating Olive Hill to death. According to court records, Swite broke into Hill's apartment at 3 a.m. to steal cigarettes and money. When she awoke, he smothered her with a pillow and sexually assaulted the body after she'd stopped breathing.
Swite was awarded a retrial, however, because of procedural concerns with the original jury.
The retrial began this month in Kelowna, but on Monday, Swite elected to plead guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
"It was pretty much as we all expected," Crown counsel Rob Bruneau said of the sentence. "I think it was a great result. The judge is a very experienced criminal-law judge and he had some very difficult issues he had to resolve. I anticipated a sentence pretty close to the one he imposed."
Bruneau was seeking a minimum 15-year sentence, while defence counsel Kevin McCullough called for 10.
Swite, a member of the Penticton Indian Band, was 20 at the time of the crime. In his written reasons for the sentencing, Josephson said he took into account that Swite was an alcoholic, had little formal education, no job skills and experienced a difficult, violent childhood. He was raised on a Reserve by his grandparents, as his parents were incapable because of substance abuse. His mother died because of substance abuse.
Josephson wrote that he also considered Swite's status as an Aboriginal. The Gladue decision, he wrote, was intended to address the problem of overrepresentation of Aboriginal persons in prison and "encourages a more restorative approach in the sentencing process."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012