Penticton woman who killed her teen boyfriend through a lethal injection of morphine in court for sentencing

No jail for morphine death?

UPDATE: 3:45 p.m.

Kiera Bourque's lawyer Paul Varga is asking Judge Gary Weatherill for a suspended sentence of three years with "strict conditions" which would mean Bourque would see no time behind bars, but she will not know her fate until next week.

Bourque pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Devon Blackmore after injecting him with illegally-obtained morphine. Crown is seeking three years in prison.

Varga's arguments for leniency centred around Bourque's clean and sober life since Blackmore's death. 

He said Bourque has been working and volunteering in the community in recent years, and read aloud from several letters of support provided by friends and family.

"Please keep in mind how far she has come. Please keep in mind how sweet and kind she is. The system is meant to rehabilitate people,” Samantha Innes, Bourque's sister, wrote.

A suspended sentence, if granted, would see Bourque get a conviction on her record but live out her sentence in the community. 

“This is a very difficult sentencing,” Judge Weatherill said at the end of the afternoon. “It will come as no surprise to any of you that I will not be able to give my decision today."

Weatherill stayed the proceedings until Wednesday, Sept. 23, in order to give him time to read through all submissions and render his ruling.

ORIGINAL: 12:45 p.m.

It was an emotional Friday morning at the Penticton courthouse as Kiera Bourque, 23, awaited sentence for the 2017 overdose death of her boyfriend Devon Blackmore, then 17, whom she injected with unprescribed morphine.

Two courtrooms full of Bourque's and Blackmore's families were outfitted with video and audio along with a phone-in line to witness the proceedings, in adherence with COVID-19 protocols. The morning was spent hearing submissions from the Crown and emotional victim impact statements, with the final sentence yet to be handed down.

Blackmore died of an overdose on April 2, 2017, after being ill for several days and asking Bourque to inject him with some of her morphine, obtained illegally, to relieve the pain. 

Bourque claims she encouraged Blackmore to go to the hospital for his illness, which had left him in severe pain and with great difficulty breathing, but that he believed it was just bronchitis. She also claims she cautioned Blackmore against the morphine. 

She administered what she called "a little bit" of morphine once on April 1 in the evening, and then again the next morning, resulting in his death. Bourque called 911 around noon and when first responders arrived, Blackmore had no pulse. 

An autopsy revealed he had been suffering from pneumonia in both lungs, believed to be a contributing factor to his death. 

Bourque was arrested for manslaughter in February 2018 then entered a surprise guilty plea in February 2020, after previously indicating she was heading to trial

Crown prosecutor Andrew Vandersluys asked the judge for three years' jail time for Bourque, noting that while she has been clean of drugs and alcohol and attending counselling for two years, she appears not to be taking full responsibility.

In a pre-trial report interview, Bourque said "I don't think [Devon] would want me to take responsibility, it was his choice." 

Vandersluys pointed out, "What is concerning is an apparent lack of insight on the part of Ms. Bourque regarding her actions ... She deflects that responsibility to the victim, Devon."

After Vandersluys' arguments, several family members and friends stood to read their victim impact statements, a total of 12 of which were submitted to the court. All recounted how irreparably their lives were ripped apart by the events of April 2. 

"I am tired of trying to figure out how to get through his next birthday," Lorrie, Blackmore's mother, said as part of her lengthy and emotional speech. ”My future is haunted by the next 30 or so Christmases, Easters, Mothers Days.”

Blackmore's sister Karley, who at 18 is now older than her big brother will ever be, said her personality has forever changed, leaving her struggling with depression and her dreams for the future left murky. 

"Even after the years it’s hard to believe he is gone. He was my first best friend, and he will always hold a special place in my heart," Carly said. "My brother was compassionate and exquisite in life and I hope everyone remembers him that way."

Bourque's lawyer Paul Varga began his submissions shortly after noon, saying Bourque never meant any harm to Blackmore and pointing to her immediate cooperation with first responders as a factor in her defence. 

"Her intention was to get him help, and when the paramedics arrived, firefighters arrived, police arrived, she told them what had happened because she believed that was the best way to get him help," Varga said. 

"By pleading guilty she saved the family a lengthy trial ... She did that because she took responsibility for her actions. She did that because she believed it was the right thing to do."

The court then recessed for its lunch break. Varga will continue his submissions at 2 p.m.

More to come...

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