April 16, 2013 - 5:28 PM
UPDATE: Defence requests community sentence for teen guilty of Hyatt manslaughter
5:00 p.m. April 16
Defence counsel for the girl responsible for the death of Ashlee Hyatt has requested a community-based sentence for the accused. Defence lawyer Donna Turko says a sentence served in jail would do her client more harm than good and says house arrest would be an equally severe punishment.
Family and friends of the Hyatt family filed back into the Kelowna Supreme Court this afternoon to hear the accused read out her apology. In her defence, the accused said she was under tough pressure to fit into a new school at the time of the incident and felt insecure about her friendships. She said fear of rumours being spread around led to the dispute on the fateful night of the stabbing.
“I wish I had been the one who died,” she said.
Psychiatric testing confirmed the accused has no psychotic disorders and is at low risk to re-offend. Turko says time behind bars would make it difficult for her client to get one-on-one treatment for her alcohol problems, and hinder her ability to re-integrate in society.
The accused's father was also in the gallery, and came forward to apologize to the Hyatt family.
“I don't know what else to say, other than I'm sorry,” he said.
Turko says the public often struggles to understand lenient sentences for youth crimes, but insists young people do not have the same mental capacity to make effective decisions.
“The risk cycle is very important for people to understand,” Turko said.
Court will reconvene tomorrow at 2 p.m. At the Kelowna Provincial Law courts for sentencing.
2:00 p.m. April 16
The 19-year-old girl responsible for stabbing and killing Ashlee Hyatt at a Peachland house party in the summer of 2010 will be sentenced to no more than three years in jail. She won't be sentenced as an adult and only two of those years will likely be behind bars.
Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay conceded that she should be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He suggested the girl, who cannot be named by court order, could serve the third year at home under supervision.
"This is indeed a serious offence," he said. "This is a tragic case, she killed her friend.”
The girl stabbed Hyatt, her friend, during a drunken dispute that escalated from name-calling to fists to a knife. Murray said his recommended sentence reflects aggravating factors, the accused having made two knife strikes at Hyatt, was drinking while underage, and fled the scene of crime.
Ashlee Hyatt's mother, Charrie says she hopes her daughter's killer will get the maximum three year sentence.
“We're not happy with it but if we can get the max three years right now, and get her some time in jail - she needs to be accountable,” she said. “She's obviously not taking any accountability.”
She said the accused has been self-centered, focused on her own troubles following the incident.
The Crown told the court today the accused maintains she did not stab Hyatt and clearly does not grasp the severity of her crime.
“A weapon can't use itself, you made that choice to take a life,” Charrie Hyatt said. “There has to be some consequences right? The breach showed us she doesn't care.”
The accused was caught breaching her bail in Abbotsford on March 8, 2013, when police found her in the driver's seat of a car with two bottles of hard liquor.
Crown emphasized the accused will need counselling and rehabilitation following her sentence to deal with alcohol abuse and anger management.
Defence counsel Donna Turko will present her suggested sentence later this afternoon and the court will reconvene tomorrow for Justice Barrow to make his decision.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
(JULIE WHITTET /InfoTel Multimedia)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013