Murder charge changed

One of three men accused of killing of a 20-year-old man off the Coquihalla Highway in April 2017 is now facing a second-degree murder charge, despite initially being charged in the first degree.

Michael Bonin's body was found on Peers Creek Road just east of Hope.

Almost nine months later, police announced first-degree murder charges had been laid against 26-year-old Ryan Watt, 20-year-old Joshua Fleurant and 27-year-old Jared Jorgenson.

On Monday, Jorgenson was instead charged with second-degree murder. Second-degree murder is that which is not planned in advance. While both charges carry a life sentence, a first-degree conviction carries no eligibility of parole for 25 years, while a person convicted of second-degree murder can be eligible for parole in 10 years.

In June, Jorgenson was released from custody on $35,000 bail, but Fleurant and Watt remain in custody.

The victim's mother, Annette Bonin, once again made the 12-hour drive from her home in Rycroft, Alta. to attend Monday's court date for the men accused of killing her son.

She said she was disappointed when she learned of the change in Jorgenson's charge, but doesn't know the role he allegedly played in her son's death. 

“I guess I just feel like it's still taking a long time,” Annette said. “I just want to know why, what happened, was it preventable? I just need closure ... I need to know what happened to my son.”

She's looking forward to finally hearing the details of the case once it gets to trial. That could come a bit sooner than originally expected, after the Crown was recently granted approval to proceed by direct indictment, a rare move that will see the case proceed directly to Supreme Court, without the need for a preliminary inquiry.

Through her discussions with the Crown, Annette says she expects the case to get to trial sometime next fall.

“It is getting harder on me,” she said. “They say time heals, but it just makes it harder. I didn't get nothing, I have no autopsy, no personal effects. If there are any, I don't know. There's so many questions I have.”

The case will be back in Kelowna court on Nov. 26, but it's unclear when a trial date will be set.

More Kelowna News