The maximum sentence for manslaughter may be life in prison, but Crown counsel thinks 10 years is appropriate and defence counsel argues it should be less than that.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes has been hearing arguments this week before sentencing Tyler Jack Newton.
Newton, 25, was initially charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in a Kelowna courtroom Wednesday morning.
The plea saw Newton finally admit to the unprovoked stabbing of 55-year-old Caesar Rosales, who bled to death while taking the No. 8 bus home from work on Oct. 30, 2014.
Crown counsel Colin Forsyth wrapped up sentencing submissions Wednesday afternoon by urging the court to consider a sentence of 10 years, minus time served.
Thursday morning, Newton’s defence lawyer, Jordan Watt, argued that he should serve less time.
He told Holmes that the types of manslaughter cases where the accused gets eight to 10 years are far more violent, extreme and gratuitous.
Whereas, Watt argues Newton did not show extreme violence. Watt says Newton stabbed him once and left.
Watt told the court about Newton's upbringing. He noted that he was born and raised in Kelowna and first started showing issues when his parent's split. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and was using illegal drugs by the time he was in Grade 5. He was suspended from school multiple times and eventually dropped out as a teenager. He has completed up to an approximate Grade 10 level.
Watt said Newton's upbringing and history led him to his life in crime.
“He battled and struggled with addiction at an early age and that has influenced his involvement in the criminal justice system and certainty a factor in this offence,” said Watt.
“He was introduced very early to marijuana, at 11 or 12 years of age, then he got into harder drugs like cocaine, crack and heroin at 15. He became addicted very soon after that and now is 25 and struggling with addictions to numerous substances.”
Watt said Newton has a strong support system and pointed out the fact that Newton's brother, parents and girlfriend have been in court to support him and are willing to support him after his release.
Watt told Justice Holmes that Newton stabbed Rosales while under a drug-induced psychosis and that Newton did not realize what he had done.
“He was seen by a forensic psychiatrist and interviewed. In the opinion of Dr. Kulwant Riar, he was in a drug-induced psychosis,” said Watt.
“He did not appreciate the consequences of his actions and was certainly acting under hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thoughts.”
Watt said his client is now sober and in a rehabilitation program. He said Newton struggles with what he did and is remorseful.
“Despite the fact he has a criminal history, this is not his type of behaviour. He is very remorseful to the the victim and the victim's family – he is scared,” said Watt.
Throughout the sentencing proceedings Newton has remained still with his head down. Watt said that speaks to his remorse.
“He is an emotional young man. His head is down because he is struggling, remorseful, scared of everything,” says Watt.
“It is a very tragic case, you have one life lost and another young person spending a significant amount of time in custody.”
While Watt has not yet told the court what sentence he thinks is appropriate, he does believe the 10-year sentence sought by the Crown is excessive.
While Rosales' brother said Newton is a waste of life, Watt believes his client can still live a full life after he serves his time.
“I am a huge believer in rehabilitation, even more so when you have a young person,” said Watt.
“He is only 25. He has the rest of his life to live. I do believe he can be rehabilitated. And that is what our criminal justice system focuses on.”
Newton has remained in custody since his arrest in 2014. Once sentenced he would be eligible for about 30 months of credit for time served.
The defence is expecting to wrap up his sentencing submissions Thursday afternoon.
Justice Holmes will deliver her sentence at a later date.