Loss of son adds to pain of justice delays

My son Micheal Baxter passed away Oct. 18, 2012, in a tragic motor vehicle accident in Peachland.

To the editor:

My name is Pam Rankel. I am Micheal Baxter’s mom. Below is a letter I have written in reference to my son’s death and the Ashlee Hyatt murder trial, and also included is a statement from his dad, Arlen Dash, who wanted to read it in court the day of our son’s funeral, but was not allowed.

My son Micheal Baxter passed away Oct. 18, 2012, in a tragic motor vehicle accident in Peachland.

He was with some friends, having spent some time up in the bush, to get away from a very hectic week. He swerved to avoid hitting a mother cow and her calf…and, well, we all know the rest of the story.

I am writing this letter as the last 2 1/2 years have taken a toll on many, especially my son Micheal.

Most of you will know of him, not because of the accident, but because he was one of the key witnesses to a horrible event June 2012, the murder of Ashlee Hyatt. That night changed my son forever, as it did so many others.

It took almost 2 1/2 yrs for closure to come with this trial, my son Micheal having to relive that night over and over again with his testimony.

Being called into court to say the same things, having the defense attorney attack his integrity, trying to see if she could confuse him, trip him up. But he stuck to the truth, never wavered.

He hadn’t had any alcohol that night, he new what he saw. I told him: “Honey, just tell the truth,” and he answered back to me: “Well, what else would I say Mom?”

Micheal was called to court Oct. 15 and16 to go over everything again that he had already said a year earlier for the pre-trial. This time it was about jury selection or something to that effect.

He put in two amazing days, but was emotionally exhausted. When he went for a drive Thursday with his friends to get away from it all and just hang out in the forest, as that was his favourite place to be, no one could have expected what was to happen.

There is no justice in the justice system—everyone involved having to relive that night over and over and over again, for 21/2 years?  Why did it have to take so long?

I know I am one of many that feel the same way about the system, how many lives do we have to lose before a change is made.

I was told that in closing arguments for the trial, my son’s testimony via taped audio made a huge difference in the accused being convicted.

A further statement below was written by Arlen Dash, Michael’s father, who had wanted to read it in court the day of Micheal’s funeral but was not allowed.

I feel what he wanted to say deserves to be heard.

Pam Rankel,

Campbell River


I am Arlen Dash, Micheal Baxter’s father and I have come to say a few words on his behalf. He won’t be here today for you to meet or to witness the emotional strain and stress that had been placed on him. You will also not get to see his strength, bravery and vitality because today is his funeral.

Micheal’s death is, in no small part, due to the justice system. He followed the rules of the law and now he is gone. He was forced to relive a tragedy repeatedly because of the justice system.

No child should have to do this. Micheal not only was brave enough to go through the proceedings at the time of Ashley’s death but then had to wait more than two years to do it again. No one deserves this, especially the young.

The victims are mercilessly and without compassion traumatized by the law. It is a travesty. It has to change to protect the innocent.

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