The sentencing hearing for a 53-year-old found guilty of murdering a woman with a homemade spear at a Ladysmith RV park in 2015 began on Thursday afternoon in a Duncan courtroom.
A jury of 12 people delivered its guilty verdict shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday following the eight-day trial finding Duncan’s Trever George Meers guilty of second-degree-murder.
In an admission of facts, Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson, 55, at the Campers Corners RV Park on Feb. 3, 2015. The weapon was later found near Meers’ residence with Johnson’s blood on it.
Johnson’s son Tim read a victim impact statement before the court on Thursday and described how his mother was a part of him and “that part of me was ripped away in a cold and careless manner.”
“I’ve always had since that day questions in the back of my head that will never be answered.The worst thought, that my mother died cold, wet, scared and alone,” said Tim.
“But I can damn well bet you that her kids, family and friends were the last things to run through her mind and not of herself. As she lay dying on the ground, that will, and always will be a reflection of the kind of person that she was.”
Nearby in the prisoner’s box, Meers sat dressed in a red VIRCC long-sleeve sweatshirt with his longish dark sandy brown hair unkempt and pulled back. He entered the court using the aid of a walker.
Although two days of sentencing had been planned for Thursday and Friday, defence counsel Stephen Taylor asked for more time in order to obtain updated medical records and a pre-sentence report, a document prepared by social workers and probation officers giving an updating synopsis of the accused.
Taylor said he wasn’t prepared to defend against the Crown seeking a longer term for parole ineligibility — typically a minimum of 10 years for 2nd-degree murder which carries a life sentence.
“I was unaware that the Crown was going to seek an extended period of parole ineligibility. There was very little time between when the verdict came in last night and the sentencing when there’s five , six , seven years at stake,” he said.
There was also the issue of a break-and-enter charge on Meers’ record which he disputes.
Nine jury members recommended Meers face at least 20 years in prison without the chance of parole.
“In my experience juries rarely make any recommendation. In this case the recommendations to me were kind of shocking, not withstanding the level of violence in the case.”
Crown counsels Leah Fontaine and Steve Richards did not reveal to the court how many years they are seeking for parole ineligibility but told the Chronicle that the results of the new medical records may have an impact. Meers has been treated both on the mainland and in local hospital for a variety of health issues.
“He’s got liver disease which cascades into various other ailments,” said Taylor, explaining the reason for his client using the walker. “A serious infection in his leg and lengthy antibiotic treatments which washed away most of the cartilage so he has mobility issues.”
Victim impact statements from Johnson’s sister Wendy MacLeod and neice Spencer Coco were also read to the court by Richards.
Johnson was a single mom who raised Tim and daughter Christine and had a cat named Jack, who she’d refer to as Jackie Chan, or more affectionately sometimes as her boyfriend or husband.
Tim said she was “fair, just, and very loving.” She also kept many possessions that showed how much she loved her children.
“After her death I received eight boxes of hers. Two contained such items as the first outfit I came home in from the hospital. every single report card and an elementary drawing book,” Tim said. “She was very proud of me and showed that her most prized possession she kept for over 30 years were junk to most.”
The sentencing hearing is expected to resume for two days in March.