More than 90 people, many wearing pins saying “Justice for Ashlee,” gathered in a Kelowna courtroom Wednesday to hear Justice Geoffrey Barrow sentence Ashlee Hyatt’s killer to nine months in jail and another 27 months under conditions in the community.
He had initially given the girl, who was convicted of manslaughter in November, more time under conditions in the community, but had to rescind it because it exceeded the three year maximum for youth sentences.
“It’s not enough,” said Ashlee’s dad, Greg Hyatt, outside court. “I think he could have given her more time in custody.”
“It could be worse,” said mom Charrie Hyatt. “We got the maximum we were allowed in our Canadian justice system. So I guess I should be happy.”
Ashlee Hyatt, 16, was fatally wounded by another 16-year-old girl at a drunken house party in Peachland on June 2, 2010.
Hyatt and another girl, the court heard, believed the youth, who cannot be named, had cheated on her boyfriend and confronted her. The confrontation became physical and at one point the girl said “I’ll stab you” to Hyatt.
Soon after, Hyatt was wounded twice in the head area. The second wound, which severed an artery, proved fatal.
Barrow found that the act was not premeditated or planned and that the knife used in the stabbing had come from the house where the party was held.
“I cannot believe this was started by a stupid, immature argument,” the youth told the court during the sentencing hearing.
“I deeply regret….the choices I made,” she said. “My remorse is incurable and will never leave me. My life is filled with sadness and regret.
“I’m so sorry for that night and the damage I caused….I wish I was the one that died,” she said.
For the Hyatt family, those words did not ring true, with Charrie calling it a “fake apology.”
The court has heard that the girl, who had been “ostracized” in Kelowna, continues to maintain that she did not stab Ashlee that night.
“You can’t apologize if you’re saying you didn’t do it,” Charrie said.
During the sentencing hearing, Crown asked for two years in jail and a one year community supervision order for the girl, but Barrow said such a sentence would violate the sentencing principle of handing down similar sentences for similar crimes.
The defence request that the girl serve her sentence in the community, arguing jail could “do more harm than good” for a girl who isn’t street smart, was also rejected.
Such a sentence is “not sufficient to hold [her] adequately responsible for her actions,” said Barrow.
“A human life has been taken….her degree of responsibility is high,” he said.
Barrow expressed condolences to the Hyatt family for their loss, but noted that “Ashlee’s life will not be measured by the sentence I impose.”
Barrow sentenced the girl to nine months in custody and a nine month community supervision order. After that, she will be on probation for 18 months. She must also provide a sample of her DNA and is banned from possessing firearms for 10 years.
By Cheryl Wierda, contributor to the Capital News