UPDATE: June 24, 11:15 am
A Kelowna man was sentenced to seven years in prison, less time served, for killing Caesar Rosales on a public bus in October 2014.
Tyler Jack Newton has been incarcerated since being arrested on Oct. 31, 2014, and charged with the killing of Rosales, who was stabbed in the neck with a knife while sitting in his seat of the No. 8 bus at a transit stop at the corner of Leckie and Baron.
Newton had initially been charged with second degree murder, but the Crown and his lawyer reached a plea bargain deal this week, as B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes heard submissions at the Kelowna courthouse from both sides before passing sentence this morning.
The Crown had been seeking a 10-year prison sentence because of the severity of the crime, while defense lawyer Jordan Watt had argued for a lesser sentence because of Newton’s drug-induced state at the time and ongoing issues with drug abuse dating back to his childhood.
June 23, 5 p.m.
Caesar Rosales’s violent end on a transit bus is something his family never imagined possible in a country like Canada, says his brother Darwin Rosales.
Darwin Rosales traveled from the Philippines to attend the sentencing at B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna this week for Tyler Jack Newton, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday, a lesser charge than second degree murder which he was initially charged with after fatally stabbing Caesar Rosales as he rode the No. 8 bus home, Oct. 30, 2014.
Darwin said his brother always assured him that Canada was a peaceful country, that he was safe from random criminal acts.
“So when we were called at home and told what happened to my brother, it was hard to believe at first something like this could happen,” said Darwin, speaking to the media on the courthouse steps.
Darwin said in his native country, 80 to 90 per cent of crime is driven by economic disparity, and the kind of random criminal act that claimed his brother’s life is not common there.
“I’m not sure why this had to happen…my brother never had a chance to defend himself,” Darwin said.
He said his family remains angry at what happened, and their mother passed away during the court proceedings on this case without getting any sense of closure.
“I am hopeful when the sentence is handed down I and my family will get some closure from this. We are angry still today but there are different levels of anger,” Darwin said.
Crown counsel Colin Forsyth told the court he’s seeking a 10-year prison term for the manslaughter conviction of Kelowna man Tyler Jack Newton.
“The court should send a strong message of denunciation and deterrence in this case,” said Forsyth, after outlining case law that supported the sentence he proposed.
“This incident was a blow to the community collectively as it took away some of a sense of security and safety. “
Defence lawyer Jordan Watt said that the sentence Forsyth proposed was too heavy, and that 10 years is usually for criminals who are much more brutal in their killings.
Watt also pointed out that context is important.
“We are dealing with a young man struggling, deeply entrenched in addiction and keen on securing his next fix,” said Watt.
“He was not thinking rationally.”
Which argument the judge will support with her sentence remains to be seen, but the two lawyers did agree on how the night Rosales was killed played out.
Newton was drugged out and hallucinating when he made an unexpected visit to a friend’s house in West Kelowna at 7:45 a.m. Oct. 30 2014, driving a stolen truck.
At the time he was carrying a number of personal items, including a knife, in a plastic bag. Uncomfortable with having a stolen truck in her yard, the friend convinced
Newton to drop the truck off at a parking lot in the nearby Shell gas station.
Her boyfriend then left, and as the day carried on the friend, who was at home with her two kids, ages 5 and 7, was increasingly uneasy with Newton’s actions.
She convinced him that she and her kids were going to Orchard Park Mall on the bus to meet a friend, and that he should come with them and then transfer to another bus to see his girlfriend.
They reached the mall and then eventually parted ways, as Newton boarded the No. 8 bus at the shopping centre loop to see his girlfriend, who lived on Hein Road.
While the bus was stopped at the Leckie and Baron Road stop, Newton was seen switching seats, placing himself directly behind Rosales, and then without provocation stabbed him in the neck, slicing his jugular vein and carotid artery.
Forsyth said nobody on the bus specifically saw Newton inflict the wound, but it became apparent something was wrong when Rosales stood up and yelled out that he had been stabbed, bleeding profusely from his neck.
Meanwhile after stabbing Rosales, Newton left the bus from the rear exit door, walking behind a nearby apartment building where he discarded the knife in a hedgerow.
Efforts to assist Rosales before emergency paramedics could arrive at the scene proved unsuccessful due to the nature of the wound.
Darwin Rosales, who was two years younger than his brother, referred to Newton’s history as a life wasted, citing his long record of criminal offences dating back to when he was a young offender up until he took Caesar’s life at age 24, ranging from breaching of court probation orders to drug possession and property related offences.
“My hope is that he will receive the maximum penalty,” said Darwin, noting that he feels Newton has no chance of being rehabilitated.
“What I would say to rehabilitation is that if you feel he can be rehabilitated, you let him live in your neighbourhood, in your house, and see how you would feel about that,” he said.
Forsyth also noted in his pre-sentence report that Newton had suffered a drug overdose earlier that month, and was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital for two days.
A social worker did speak with Newton and told him of the community services available to help him with his drug addiction, but Newton denied that he had a drug problem.