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Bus stabber was paranoid, delusional and hearing voices

Tyler Jack Newton pleaded guilty to manslaughter two years after he killed a man on a Kelowna bus Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.
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KELOWNA – Without a word of warning, Tyler Jack Newton stood up from his seat on the Number Eight bus and stabbed Caesar Rosales through the neck. The blade of the folding knife severed both the jugular vein and the carotid artery, and the 55-year-old father died within minutes.

As the dozens of passengers stared in frightened disbelief, Newton got off the bus, ditched the knife in a hedge and disappeared into the night.

He was arrested within 24 hours.

Initially charged with second degree murder, Newton pleaded guilty to manslaughter and hung his head while Crown lawyer Colin Forsyth read the details of the murder and the impact it had on Rosales’ family. Rosales’ brother traveled from the Philippines to hear the sentence. He called Newton "a wasted life."

The facts paint Newton as a psychotic drug addict with over 50 criminal convictions over five and a half years.

Forsyth revealed that two weeks before the killing, Newton was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital after an overdose on GHB and methamphetamines. He was offered help with his addictions, but declined, saying he didn’t use hard drugs “that often.”

On Oct. 30, 2014, the day Rosales was killed, Newton arrived at a friend’s home in a stolen truck and he was behaving irrationally. He claimed the television told him to steal his girlfriends’ mother's truck, that his girlfriend had installed a secret passageway to her neighbour's house, that voices were telling him to steal vehicles and burn them, that he had returned from the dead with a new identity, and that his family were imposters who must be killed. He also believed the government deposited $100,000 into a bank account for him and that everyone was trying to get it.

Newton, already high on heroin, drove the stolen truck to a nearby gas station where he ditched it and returned to the house. Hours later, Newton, who had been doing more heroin, left with a friend and her two young children to take a bus to Orchard Park Mall.

“While waiting for the bus the accused was playing with his knife at the bus (stop),” Forsyth said.

When the 97 bus arrived around 6 p.m., the four of them boarded and took seats near the back. While roughhousing with one of the kids, Newton put him in a headlock and held a folding knife with a distinct blade to the child’s head, with the blade facing away. The child’s mother told him to stop but he did it twice more before they arrived at the mall.

After an attempt to ditch Newton failed, the friend told him to go home and work things out with his girlfriend and get some sleep.

“At this point the children were misbehaving and the mother said, don’t make me make Tyler shut you up,” Forsyth said. Tyler’s response foreshadowed the rage and confusion that played a role in what happened less than an hour later.

“He said in a serious manner, 'who am I shutting up,'” Forsyth said. “She said she was just joking (but) he gave a look she’d never seen. She described it as 'mean' and 'scary.'

“He said he missed his chance, and failed the test she had given him,” Forsyth said.

She convinced him to board the Number Eight bus with a number of other passengers, including Caesar Rosales.

The bus stopped at an apartment building on Baron Road around 6:30 p.m. and several passengers debussed. One of them noticed Newton move from his seat to one right behind Rosales.

“The accused, still wearing a hood over his head, then stood up and without warning, swung his right arm in the direction of Rosales, stabbing him once on the right side of his neck. There were no words exchanged. No one on the bus heard him say anything before or after,” Forsyth said. “(He) then immediately exited the bus where he walked past the passenger with the knife in his right hand.”

Rosales let out a sound of shock and stood up, holding his neck. He was bleeding heavily. Passengers tried to help but Rosales died before paramedics could arrive.

An autopsy shows Rosales died when both his jugular vein and carotid artery were severed.

Police found the folding knife with a silver blade in a hedge nearby and arrested Newton at a home on Hein Road the next day.

He was first charged with second degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter today, June 22. Crown is seeking a sentence of ten years, calling the crime "a blow to the communities collective sense of security given its brutal and random nature." A sentence of ten years is at the high end for a manslaughter charge. 

Defence lawyer Jordan Watt will present his sentencing submissions to Justice Heather Holmes tomorrow, June 23.

Newton has an extensive criminal history going back to 2008, when he was charged with break and enter and theft over $5,000. He has appeared in court nearly every year since then on charges ranging from possession of stolen property and drugs to theft of a motor vehicle. He has 50 criminal convictions over the last five and a half years.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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