A 26-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the stabbing death of her brother over a missing hamburger was sentenced Friday to 5 1/2 years in prison.

Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas accepted a last-minute submission of a victim impact statement from the mother of the woman and her 17-year-old brother, who was killed at their home in a First Nations community on June 27, 2021. The identity of the victim is protected under a publication ban, which therefore covers the identity of his sister.

“This has been so heartbreaking. My son was taken from me . . . from this world, far too soon,” the mother said in a London courtroom, choking back tears, before asking the prosecutor to read the rest of her statement.

“Words cannot express the heartache and pain” that family and friends feel, the mother wrote in the statement read by the Crown. The statement also said the mother loved both her kids “very much” and asked that family and friends hold her son in their hearts.

At an earlier hearing, defence lawyer Andy Rady provided expressions of remorse from the woman, who pleaded guilty last summer to a lesser charge of manslaughter for stabbing her brother to death with a knife and a pair of scissors.

On Friday, the woman delivered a brief apology to her family. “I’d just like to say sorry to my family . . . especially my mom and dad,” she said.

Previously the court heard that the night before his son died, the father brought home a Wendy’s hamburger his son had requested and left it in the microwave. The son, who had been out drinking, arrived home early the next morning and called his father when he found the burger was not there.

The daughter then called her father to complain about her brother making a mess in the kitchen. As the father raced home, a fight between the two siblings broke out over the missing burger. The brother was stabbed multiple times and taken to hospital, where he died.

A police investigation revealed he had been stabbed with a knife and scissors, causing six sharp-force injuries.

The woman made 10 phone calls after the stabbing before dialling 911, and not until two minutes after her father arrived home. She told police a stranger had stabbed her brother, going so far as to work with a police sketch artist to draw an image of a suspect.

The woman was arrested and charged on Dec. 7, 2021.

With credit for time served, the woman has a little more than three years and 10 months left on her sentence.

“The offence here is grave,” Thomas said before reading his decision, referring to the loss of a 17-year-old boy.

But he cited several mitigating factors, including that the woman, a mother of two, was a first-time offender and only 25 years of age at the time of the offence, had pleaded guilty and expressed remorse, and had difficulties in custody, where the “custodial setting” had led her “to regularly consider suicide,” he said.

Thomas also took into account the Gladue principles — background and systemic factors that must be considered by a judge when sentencing an Indigenous offender. The woman’s background includes intergenerational trauma from the residential school system, an early introduction to alcohol and childhood sexual abuse, the court heard.

Rady had argued for two years less a day, to be served in the community, while assistant Crown attorney James Spangenberg had sought a seven-year prison term.

Spangenberg had also won a publication ban on anything that could identify the victim, who was under 18 when he died.

By Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 06, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   London Free Press   London, Ontario

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