Vernon woman seeks justice reform after brother's killer's absolute discharge | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon woman seeks justice reform after brother's killer's absolute discharge

Kenneth Barter has received an absolute discharge.
Image Credit: Global Okanagan (with permission)
January 23, 2019 - 10:12 AM

VERNON - A woman and her family are seeking to spark a change in the justice system after the recent absolute discharge of the man who killed her brother.

The B.C. Review Board gave an absolute discharge — meaning there are no conditions for release — to Kenneth Barter, a former Vernon man who murdered and dismembered Nathan Mayrhafer in August 2010. Barter was found not criminally responsible in January 2011 due to a schizophrenia diagnosis. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital until January 2015 when he received a conditional release.

Barter's absolute discharge came as a surprise to Rebecca Mayrhafer, the victim's sister. Barter had been denied an absolute discharge as recently as August 2018, when the B.C. Review Board stated he was still a "significant threat to public safety."

"We were really upset," Mayrhafer said. "Ken's had a lot of issues in the past."

Mayrhafer is worried Barter may neglect his medication without supervision, which could pose a public safety risk.

"He doesn't have to answer to anybody," she said. "The risk is there."

In response to the absolute discharge, Mayrhafer started the group Justice for Nathan. She wants changes in the legal system to allow for medication supervision and periodic checkups for violent offenders with mental health problems.

"We feel it should be mandatory because the risk is too great for the public," she said. "You have to make sure people are doing what they're supposed to do."

Mayrhafer and her group have started writing letters to provincial and federal governments to advocate for their cause. She said she's received a fairly positive response from people who've heard about her efforts.

"I hope we can do something to fix this system," she said. "It's so, so broken."

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