A Kelowna judge has decided to veer outside the typical sentencing range for manslaughter, saying the “unique” facts of the case warrant a shorter jail sentence for Blake Nahachewski.
Nahachewski, who pleaded guilty to the July 2008 manslaughter of Brian Schaefer back in December, was handed 30 months in jail at his sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon.
After credit for time served, he has an additional eight months in custody to serve.
Before imposing sentence, Judge Gale Sinclair noted that he knew whatever he decided would be too little for Schaefer’s family and too much for Nahachewski and that anything he did would not bring Schaefer back.
He said he had to impose a sentence based in law and later said he was “satisfied the unique facts take this case outside the so-called usual (sentencing) range of four to six years.”
There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter and the maximum is life in prison.
The events leading up to Schaefer’s death began around 2 a.m. on July 4, 2008, when an argument between Schaefer and Nahachewski broke out over a picture of a girl they both knew.
That argument culminated in Nahachewski assaulting the 55-year-old inside his Gellatly Road home.
The court heard that Schaefer, who was very drunk, began calling Nahachewski names and became physically aggressive with him.
“The accused exercised restraint at first,” said Sinclair.
However, he later struck at Schaefer, hitting him in the head and at least one time in the ribs, later telling another person at the property that night that Schaefer was going to have “sore ribs” in the morning.
It turns out four of Schaefer’s ribs were broken and that led to the rupturing of his spleen.
Schaefer, however, didn’t go to see medical professionals until some 36 hours later, and then refused treatment by emergency room staff.
He returned home against medical advice.
Had he received treatment then, a pathologist suggested, Schaefer would likely have recovered from his injuries.
However, he didn’t get treatment until July 8, when he returned to hospital in hemorrhagic shock.
His spleen was removed, but after the surgery Schaefer contracted pneumonia and eventually died of complications from the surgery on July 27.
And while Schaefer didn’t get medical treatment until days later, that doesn’t remove the legal culpability of Nahachewski for the assault that led to Schaefer’s death, said Crown counsel Colin Forsyth.
The young man, who was 23 at the time of Schaefer’s assault, had a troubled childhood, suffering abuse at the hands of a step-father around the age of 5 and was eventually kicked out of the family home at 12 after he was accused of stealing an item he hadn’t actually taken.
And while he has amassed a criminal record in his adult life, he had no convictions for violence prior to this manslaughter case.
That, along with Nahachewski’s remorse, prompted defence lawyer Dave Johnson to ask for time already served—which he calculated at either 25 or 27 months—plus one day.
“He’s spent enough time in jail on the matter,” said Johnson.
Sinclair, however, didn’t agree, sentencing Nahachewski to 30 months, as the Crown requested.
He did give Nahachewski double credit for the 11 months he served between his arrest in November 2008 and release on bail in October, 2009.
He declined to give Nahachewski credit for time served since his arrest on another matter in January nor for the 84 days he spent in custody after missing a court date, as defence requested.
“To do so would reward him for being a no-show at his scheduled preliminary hearing,” said Sinclair.
Nahachewski has eight months remaining on his sentence after the judge credited him for part of his time in custody.
He must also submit a sample of his DNA and is subject to a lifetime firearms ban, the judge ruled.