Skip to content

Kelowna bus killer's sentence is 'an insult,' says victim's family

"Adding insult to injury, the killer walks away a free man in such a short period of time..."
Darwin Rosales speaks to the media outside the Kelowna courthouse.

Slain Kelowna resident Caesar Rosales was let down by the courts this week,  says his brother.

His killer, Tyler Jack Newton, 25, learned Friday that he will serve 4.5 more years behind bars for fatally stabbing Rosales in the neck Oct. 31, 2014, as he rode a city bus. The total sentence is seven years, but Newton will receive time and a half credit for the 602 days he's already been imprisoned.

"I came here, halfway across the world, to seek justice and restitution for the murder of my brother and I will go back holding the bag," said Darwin Rosales, who travelled to Canada from the Philippines for the hearing.

"Adding insult to injury, the killer walks away a free man in such a short period of time."

Rosales pointed out that court sentences are getting weaker, and he wouldn't be surprised that if in the not so distant future, "a slap on the hand could be the penalty for murder."

Newton pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week, a lesser charge from second degree murder, which he was initially charged with. Crown counsel Colin Forsyth didn't feel there was enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Newton intended to kill Rosales when he stabbed him in the neck — intent being the difference between manslaughter and murder.

He argued, however, that the crime was a "near murder" and that a 10 year prison term should be applied.

Defence lawyer Jordan Watt said that cases where victims are stabbed multiple times, and in more horrific style, are more fitting a 10 year sentence and asked that Newton be sentenced somewhere in the area between four to six years.

Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes split the difference and landed on a sentence of seven years, a DNA order and a firearm ban. While Newton's fatal stab had grave consequences, she added, it wasn't a complex act that required planning or forethought and she noted it lacked brutality of other killings that resulted in lengthier sentences.

The discussion on whether multiple  wounds are worse than a stab in the neck didn't sit well with Rosales.

"Between dead and alive … it's like comparing heaven and hell," he said. "But (there are) not shades of grey for multiple stabbings and single stabbings if they are both fatal."

Rosales also pointed out that he believed Newton wanted to kill his brother, having likely seen him on the public transit route before. He also didn't believe that Newton was remorseful, despite the Justice Holmes's assertions that he was.

"When the convicted killer asked for forgiveness he didn't maintain eye contact …he stressed the fact he just wanted to get his life back," said Rosales.

" My brother can't be put back to life… he took a generation of my brother's life, while he will walk away free in four years."

Newton told the court he intends to get a GED and get some drug counselling programs while he's incarcerated.

He has a criminal record 50 convictions long and was drugged out and hallucinating on the day he killed Rosales.

The court heard that he was in a violent mindset Oct. 30, 2014 when he made an unexpected visit to a friend’s house, driving a stolen truck in the early hours of the day.

At the time he was carrying a number of personal items, including a knife sheathed in a plastic bag.

Uncomfortable with having a stolen truck in her yard, Newton's friend convinced him to drop the truck off at a parking lot in the nearby Shell gas station.

He did just that, and as the day wore on the friend, who was at home with her two kids, ages 5 and 7, was increasingly uneasy with his actions, which at one point included holding a knife at one of her children.

She then 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.

Rosales has the misfortune of being on that bus, as he often was.

While the bus was stopped at the Leckie and Baron Road stop, Newton was seen switching seats, placing himself directly behind Rosales. Then, without provocation, he stabbed Rosales 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.

Rosales worked in IT at Flight Craft. At the time of his killing, friends remembered him as kind, unassuming  man who had a taste for adventure. He was survived by two siblings, his adult age son and a mother.

His mother's health, the court heard this week, took a turn for the worse when she learned her son had died and she too passed within 14 months of his killing.