Highlights of our horror.
On August 14, 2005, in the sleepy Nova Scotia countryside, where people usually didn’t lock their doors, my son’s life was brutally taken. We were thrown into a justice system and I was totally disillusioned with the whole process. On Saturday August 13, 2005, I was driving my son to his weekend job when the skies opened. His boss immediately called to say work would be cancelled, so I drove Tyler back home and I went to my second job. With his day free, Ty decided to attend a family get-together with a longtime friend. Tyler chose to stay overnight because his car needed mechanical attention. Also he had a fishing trip planned for early the next morning with another friend living nearby. In the small quiet community of Glen Haven my son’s friend’s family home became the site of a double homicide.
The accused had been intravenously injecting cocaine (as per witness testimony) all Saturday and several times into Saturday evening. In the early morning of Sunday August 14, 2005 he walked into my son’s friend’s home with a large knife. Adam could not move fast enough to protect himself (Adam had suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident years before) and was proved to have been ruthlessly murdered as he was sleeping or at least laying in his own bed. The murderer was a 25 year old man, just moved to the house next door in May, who had no quarrel with the boys and very little interaction. Tyler came down from upstairs where he was sleeping, hearing Adam screaming. From the time he was a young boy, he had a habit of wrapping himself in a sleeping bag or blanket that sleeping bag acts to further trap him and leave him tangled. Tyler tried to protect his friend but was caught off guard in the wee hours of the morning. Tyler fought hand to large knife, tearing the radiator off the kitchen wall trying to find something to defend and fight off the invader. Ty fought a valiant fight even though he had been mortally wounded, chasing the assailant out of the house, knocking the railing off the deck outside and chasing the murderer out over the lawn. The Chronicle Herald delivery man found Ty laying there in the morning dampness and called the police. Ty made it to the hospital but had too many wounds and lost too much blood to survive. I have no doubt that big heart of his just didn’t want to quit, it kept beating for as long as it could.
The nightmare of that followed us into the horror of the court room. We went to court over 25 times, every time feeling we had to be there to show our love and support and each time facing the person responsible for killing our sons. The justice system so determined to uphold the rights of the accused causes the victims to be victimized. I applaud the changes that have been been to the justice system. Things which we had no idea about previously but being thrown into such unknown waters became obviously wrong to us back then. Concurrent sentencing (promoting a criminal to kill everyone in sight as they would receive no extra incarceration) double time credits for jail before sentencing (every repeat criminal knows to work the system to win) mandatory release (does not install a sense of needing to conform or succeed to be released from prison) all needed to change. Some things have thankfully been corrected by the Conservative government but more needs to change.
Finally in 2009 the murderer pleaded guilty just before he was scheduled to go to court in front of a jury. Agreeing to a plea bargain in exchange for a guilty plea. Because he pleaded guilty the judge presiding over the case took the recommendations of the lawyers. The court room was packed with friends, family and people that knew Tyler and Adam. We thought if we came to show our sons were normal, much loved, well liked young men, that meant the world to so many the judge may be swayed to pass a harsher sentence than defence requested. So many supporters that the court had to be delayed over 30 minutes to seat everyone. We then poured out our souls, giving victim statements thinking it would sway the judge into a harsher sentence, showing our love for our sons. The defence lawyers stated the accused had been in and out of jail starting with Waterville juvenile centre and then getting addicted to hard drugs while in an adult jail. The lawyer actually admitted that while incarcerated in our penal system, the accused was introduced to the cocaine they felt drove him. The sentencing judge did not hear or see the details of the case. Being subjected to the preliminary hearing our families actually knew more about the case than the sentencing judge was told. It was not stated at the sentencing that Adam was stabbed in his bed and could not get up to fight off the assailant. My son being stabbed over 30 times fighting for his friend was not told. We did not hear anyone say that the murderer had told people at a party that he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. Neither did we hear that Adam had heard the accused’s girlfriend crying outside the house and told her to leave someone that would mistreat her. That was 3rd party hearsay and couldn’t be used in court. We did not hear that the teen travelling with the murderer that night stated both had been using cocaine intravenously all day before, that night and into the morning. That someone heard the teen laughing the next morning and said the murderer was angry because his girlfriend left him and blamed Adam. The fact that the murderer brought a large knife with him from his personal collection was not mentioned. The fact that while incarcerated awaiting trial and sentencing the accused attacked an injured man in prison (totally in character with him attacking a paraplegic person). Those things were stated by police in meetings, from stories re-told in the community, newspaper stories and information from the preliminary hearing where they decide if there is enough evidence to have a trial. None of those things were presented to the judge at the sentencing and none of those statements were included in the statement of facts that was presented to the sentencing judge. The murderer was given 2 life sentences (25 years) to be served concurrently and with no chance of parole for 13 years! That was totally unjust sentencing. Because in Canada the accused does not serve all 13 years, he is eligible for parole and release serving a percentage of that 13 years. He was sentenced in 2009 and will be eligible for day parole Oct 2015. Life should be life or at least 25 years and certainly not 10 years in total and 6 years from sentencing.
I feel the leaders, making laws and decisions need to know what we have been through with the justice system. The court room and legal system was a nightmare no person should ever have to experience. From little things like being seated directly beside the accused’s mother and aunt, by watching his pregnant girlfriend file her nails in court while hearing of blood splatter patterns, watching his lawyer tell him not to worry and laughing with him while experts were testifying of my son’s foot prints marked in his own blood. Victim impact statements that made absolutely no impact on anyone, except tore our hearts out to write. To the indecency of having two lives taken, two families almost destroyed and have the accused eligible for parole in such a short time. I feel society has to understand all is not as it seems in the justice system. Concurrent sentencing has been rectified, the double time credits have been denied but mandatory release and parole all need to be corrected. Prisons need to be tougher on inmates. The person who murdered our sons has been found guilty of having contraband in jail, he was involved and charged with assault in prison. He has started programs and classes, never to finish. Still he will be released possibly as early as Oct 2015 because we still have mandatory release. Inmates should be rehabilitated in prison or not released, it should not be an option. Please understand when you are demonstrating against tougher laws against criminals they could be released to kill one of your family members. Arm yourself with knowledge of the Canadian justice system, speak to families who have lost loved ones to repeat offenders, who became addicted to drugs in the Canadian penal system. Don’t be lulled by blaming the victim, believing it will not happen to your family. It can. I never want anyone standing in our shoes. The nightmare does not go away. Death is final, no amount of justice or rehabilitation for the criminal can help our families now. Act before it is too late. Support your government officials in being tougher on crime, harder on the more severe crimes and supporting compulsory rehabilitation in prisons.