Hyatt killer loses sentence appeal
The young woman convicted of manslaughter in the 2010 death of Ashlee Hyatt has lost her sentence appeal.
In a decision rendered Tuesday, Court of Appeal justices rejected the young woman's argument that the trial judge erred in giving her a custodial sentence.
The now 19-year-old, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), was sentenced in April to nine months in open custody at a youth facility, nine months of community supervision and 18 months of probation.
The sentence came after a jury found her guilty of manslaughter in the June 2010 death of 16-year-old Ashlee Hyatt, who was fatally wounded at a Peachland house party.
During her appeal, the young woman argued the trial judge failed to state the reasons why an entirely non-custodial sentence was not adequate to achieve the purposes of sentencing, especially because of evidence that she was a low risk to offend and that a prison sentence might have a negative impact on her rehabilitation.
However, the Court of Appeal acknowledged the trial judge considered the teen’s vulnerability if she were to go to an adult facility and instead sent her to a youth detention facility.
The appeal court also noted the trial judge faced a “conundrum” when balancing factors like the young woman’s low risk to reoffend against her “high” degree of responsibility and the seriousness of the offence.
“In my view, the sentencing judge made no error in the manner in which he balanced the sentencing principles and objectives of the YCJA as they applied to the appellant,” concluded Justice Nicole Garson. “His reasons make clear that he did consider other non-custodial sentencing options but that on balance he considered a fit sentence, one that fully observed the principles in section 38 of the YCJA, required the incarceration of [the young woman] for nine months of her sentence.”
The justices also rejected the argument that the trial judge did not state the reasons for the sentence sufficiently.
Tuesday’s decision denying the appeal came nearly two weeks after lawyers made their arguments for and against the appeal in Vancouver.
By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor