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Saskatchewan teen sentenced for killing his pregnant mother


3 minute read

Nipawin – A 14-year-old boy has been sentenced to six years and eight months in custody for killing his pregnant mother in their Saskatchewan home.

The boy, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder for the 2021 death in Choiceland, a town northeast of Prince Albert.

Judge Lloyd Stang described in his sentencing decision Friday how, on Sept. 24, 2021, the boy hit his mother in the head with various objects, including an aerosol can, while she was sleeping, then strangled her with a USB cable.

After the attack, the boy, then 13, phoned his uncle, who contacted the police. When officers arrived, they found the boy standing on the driveway with blood on his clothing, where he admitted to killing his mother.

Two siblings were in the home when the attack happened.

The 37-year-old woman was nine months pregnant with her fifth child, who also died.

Stang said in his decision that the boy had wanted to live with his father and his mother wouldn’t let him. Stang said that the father was convicted for a 2020 assault against the boy, who “apparently did not understand” that his father was prohibited from having any contact with him.

Stang said that this resulted in the boy having “acute anger” toward his mother. The boy “felt he had no other choice but to kill her,” said a pre-sentence report cited in the decision.

Following the boy’s guilty plea on Sept. 7, 2022, Stang ordered a psychological assessment. Registered psychologist Ashley Viklund reported that the boy met the criteria for conduct disorder and adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct. Viklund also reported that the boy had “moderate risk for violent recidivism.”

Stang said in his decision that the boy had brandished and/or threw a knife at his mother 10 months before her death.

The judge also said the boy showed no remorse for the killing, which could be attributed to his mental health problems and behavioural disorders.

“With time and additional maturity, he may come to be genuinely remorseful for what he has done,” Stang wrote in his decision.

Crown prosecutor Wade Rogers said no credit for time already served should be deducted from the boy’s sentence, which the defence disputed.

Stang gave the boy 16 months credit for time already served on what would have been a maximum eight-year sentence.

Stang included a provision that if there is sufficient concern about the boy’s risk to reoffend violently, authorities can apply for him to remain in custody beyond his sentence.

In addition to his custodial sentence, the boy is prohibited from possessing firearms, weapons, ammunition or explosive substances for 15 years after completing his sentence and must provide DNA samples for forensic analysis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2023.

— By Angela Amato in Edmonton.

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Canada argues court misconstrued Charter in directing feds to bring men in Syria home

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A general view of Karama camp for internally displaced Syrians, is shown Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, by the village of Atma, Idlib province, Syria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Omar Albam

By Jim Bronskill in Ottawa

The Canadian government says a federal judge misinterpreted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in directing officials to secure the release of four men from detention in northeastern Syria.

Government lawyers are set to stress that point in the Federal Court of Appeal today as they seek to overturn a January ruling by Federal Court Justice Henry Brown.

In his decision, Brown said Ottawa should request repatriation of the men in Syrian prisons run by Kurdish forces as soon as reasonably possible and provide them with passports or emergency travel documents.

Brown ruled the men are also entitled to have a representative of the federal government travel to Syria to help facilitate their release once their captors agree to hand them over.

The government says in written arguments filed in the Court of Appeal that Brown mistakenly conflated the recognized Charter right of citizens to enter Canada with a right to return — effectively creating a new right for citizens to be brought home by the Canadian government.

Federal lawyers argue Brown’s “novel and expansive” approach overshoots the text, purpose and protected interests of the Charter right to enter, and is inconsistent with established domestic and international law.

The government also contends the court usurped the role of the executive over matters of foreign policy and passports. “The mandatory actions fail to respect the proper role of the executive and prevent it from making necessary, timely and individualized assessments within its expertise about a range of complex considerations.”

The judge’s ruling has largely been put on hold while the appeal plays out. However, Ottawa must still get the process started by initiating contact with the Kurdish forces who are detaining the men in a region reclaimed from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The four men include Jack Letts, whose parents John Letts and Sally Lane have waged a vigorous campaign to pressure Ottawa to come to his aid.

Lawyer Barbara Jackman, who represents Letts, points out in a submission to the Court of Appeal that the four Canadian men have not been charged with any crime.

“They have not had access to the necessities of life and have been subjected to degrading, cruel and unusual treatment during their nightmarish tenure in Syrian prisons,” the filing says. “Jack Letts told his family and the Canadian government that he was subjected to torture and contemplated ending his own life.”

The identities of the three other Canadian men are not publicly known.

Their lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, says Brown’s ruling that Canada should take steps to facilitate repatriation of the men is a practical solution that recognizes the Charter-entrenched right of entry.

“Justice Brown’s decision is comprehensive and correct in law,” Greenspon’s written submission to the Court of Appeal says.

In these rare circumstances, where Canadians are being arbitrarily detained in a foreign country and the federal government has been invited to take steps to facilitate their entry into Canada, the court correctly declared that Ottawa should take those steps, the filing adds.

Family members of the men, as well as several women and children, argued in the Federal Court proceedings that Global Affairs Canada must arrange for their return, saying that refusing to do so violates the Charter.

The government insisted that the Charter does not obligate Ottawa to repatriate the Canadians held in Syria.

However, Greenspon reached an agreement with the federal government in January to bring home six Canadian women and 13 children who had been part of the court action.

In his ruling, Brown said the Canadian men are not able to return home “in part because their government seems never to have formally requested their repatriation.”

They are not able to enjoy “a truly meaningful exercise” of their Charter right to enter Canada unless and until the federal government makes a formal request to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria on their behalf, he wrote.

“Canada must make a formal request for their repatriation because otherwise the Court is asked to construe the Charter in an ‘unreal world.”’

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.

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Police investigating how shooter got firearm after autopsy and balistic analysis

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News release from the Edmonton Police Service

Autopsy on shooter, ballistic analysis complete in line of duty deaths

An autopsy on the shooter and ballistic analysis of the firearm have been completed in the Mar. 16, 2023 EPS line of duty deaths.

The Edmonton Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Mar. 22, 2023, and confirmed that the 16-year-old male shooter’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head consistent with being self-inflicted.

“We recognize that there is intense public interest in this investigation,” says EPS Deputy Chief Devin Laforce. “At this time, our priorities need to be the integrity of ongoing investigations, including the origin of the firearm, as well as the safety and privacy of all the families affected by this tragedy. For these reasons, we are not releasing or confirming the name of the deceased.”

A bullet casing recovered from the scene of a Mar. 12, 2023 shooting at a nearby restaurant in the area of 133 Street and 114 Avenue has been forensically matched to the firearm that was recovered at the 132 Street and 114 Avenue apartment, where Constable Brett Ryan and Constable Travis Jordan were fatally shot on Mar. 16, 2023.

Investigators believe the suspect in the Mar. 12 shooting to be the same 16-year-old male responsible for the deaths of the two EPS members, although this has yet to be confirmed. Detectives are also working to trace the origins of the firearm and how it came to be in the youth’s possession.

At this time, investigators continue to believe that the youth’s parents, police dispatch and Constables Ryan and Jordan had no information to suggest there was a firearm in the home when the family dispute call for service was made on Mar. 16.

“Both events have been served by robust investigations that have followed all lines of inquiry,” says Deputy Chief Devin Laforce. “All tips and other investigative avenues were pursued exhaustively by the investigating teams.”

The male shot on Mar. 12 in the restaurant remains in hospital in critical but stable condition, and the youth’s mother who was shot on Mar. 16 remains in hospital in serious but stable condition.

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