KAMLOOPS - Both provincial and supreme courtrooms at the Kamloops Law Courts have seen a steady stream of cases this past year. As we count down to the new year, we present some of the highlights—maybe lowlights—from 2014.
— Damien Lawrence Taylor, 23, was arrested and charged in the death of C.J. Fowler - his 16-year-old girlfriend. Fowler's body was found in a ravine near Guerin Creek in December 2012. She was visiting Kamloops and had a bus ticket to return home to Terrace. The investigation which led to Taylor's arrest in Kelowna took officers more than a year. He has made appearances in court and will stand trial by jury to face his second-degree murder charge in September 2015.
— Teens learned a great deal about the potential impact of exchanging nude photos online after three 15-year-old boys were implicated in child pornography charges that were later changed to a lesser charge of criminal harassment. The case went to court after administrators at School District 73 brought a complaint forward to the RCMP in January. The boys traded nude photos of up to 32 underage girls across schools in Kamloops “like hockey cards,” Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone said.
Without victim impact statements provided to the court and given the boys’ otherwise clean records and guilty pleas, the judge sentenced the boys in December to six months probation and ordered them to complete community service hours. The boys cannot be named as they are young offenders.
— A young offender did not receive jail time after a brutal assault that left a man in a coma. Michael Forry, the victim of the attack, had 49 screws and 52 staples placed in his skull to heal the injury he sustained after he was beaten with a longboard. The teen, who cannot be named by law, received 18 months probation at his February sentence hearing.
— In a rare court application to remove a publication ban against her name, Chanelle Petrie made sure the story of her abusive hockey coach was well-known. The 18-year-old succeeded in publicly releasing her name which also identified Heidi Ferber – her abuser. The court heard the Ferber initially helped Petrie with her hockey and the two became friends. Later on, the relationship became sexual. At the time of the offences, Petrie was 15 years old. During the course of their relationship, Ferber told Petrie not to tell her parents, which she eventually did.
Ferber was charged and convicted of sexual exploitation and sexual interference with a person under 16. In April, she was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for 20 years.
— The news of Jesse Seymour’s passing shook the community of Kamloops and the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc band after he was killed by his friend Torbin Alec at a party in 2012. At the sentence hearing, most of the courtroom gallery was full of Seymour’s friends and family to remind Alec of the void he created. Alec was convicted of manslaughter and, in April, was sentenced to six years in prison.
— Gerald Peters said he doesn't remember stabbing his common-law wife Deborah Joseph when he was drunk on mouthwash, but pleaded guilty and was sentenced in June to nearly four-and-a-half years in jail. Both were intoxicated the night she died. The judge considered Peters’ alcoholism, residential school experience and remorse as mitigating factors in sentencing.
— A jury convicted William Robert Smith of manslaughter 15 years after he beat his friend Sandy Charlie to death. Before Charlie's body was found, the family conducted an extensive search of the area near Lytton. In a sad turn of events, Charlie's son died from exposure while he was searching for his father. The investigation and eventual court case took place after Charlie’s body was discovered in a shallow grave in Lytton in 2011. Smith was arrested after he confessed to the murder in an RCMP Mr. Big sting. In July, he was sentenced to six years in prison with a 20-month consecutive term for burying Charlie’s body.
— Convicted pedophile David Bruce Jennings was labelled as a dangerous offender and handed an indeterminate prison sentence in September. Jennings has a lengthy criminal history of sex offenses against boys and girls – the youngest of his victims was a three-year-old girl. Before he was moved from the courtroom, Jennings told the judge he planned to appeal his sentence.
— In September, Donald Charles Isadore was sentenced to six months in jail after he struck Valerie Brook, a pedestrian in the crosswalk, with his truck in 2012. Isadore never held a license and his record showed repeated instances of driving illegally. After Brook’s death, police caught Isadore driving two more times. He will attempt to appeal his conviction in the New Year.
— Rick Brown, a corporal at the Kamloops RCMP detachment, was acquitted after a four-year-long investigation and trial where he was accused of breaching trust. Brown, Constables Evan Elgee and Stephen Zaharia and jail guard David Tompkins were all charged after two women had sex in the cellblock’s drunk tank. The group, including Brown, watched the women on security feed as there were no empty cells available to separate them. In October, a Supreme Court Justice acquitted Brown after determining that watching the women was not a crime as it was a requirement to ensure the women’s safety. Before Brown’s trial, charges against the other officers were dropped. Tompkins pleaded guilty and received a one-year conditional sentence.
— Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi and his company Northland Properties Corporation were convicted of harmfully altering a fish habitat after the 2010/2011 landscaping and renovations to the Gaglardi family vacation property in Savona resulted in damage to Kamloops Lake. In December, Gaglardi and the company were ordered to pay a total of $140,000 in court fines and payments to the British Columbia Conservation Foundation.
— Robert Donald Balbar was convicted of killing his girlfriend Heather Hamill in 2003. This was the second time Balbar faced a jury after he successfully appealed his 2009 conviction in 2011. In a Mr. Big sting in 2007, Balbar told an officer pretending to be a crime boss he killed Hamill. The case was the first in Canada to use evidence tendered from a Mr. Big sting after a Supreme Court of Canada decision that placed stronger restrictions on the technique. Balbar will be sentenced in the New Year.
— Kenneth Michael Knutson has made brief court appearances since his arrest on Dec. 3. He is accused of shooting Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Jean-Rene Michaud in Batchelor Heights. Knutson faces several charges, including attempted murder. He is due back in court for his bail hearing on January 15.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at email@example.com or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.