A Prince Rupert man convicted in the deaths of his foster parents has been sentenced to three years, to be served both in custody and in the community.
The young man, only known as B.E. because he was a minor at the time, was found guilty of manslaughter last August in the 2017 deaths of his foster mother, known as S.L, and foster father, H.L. He was originally charged with second-degree murder.
The trial heard B.E. stabbed his foster mom while she slept in her bedroom, and when his foster dad came into the room, stabbed him as well. However, he also phoned 911 right away, asking for an ambulance, and telling the dispatcher, “I can’t remember what I did. I — I stabbed my parents.”
B.C. Supreme Court Justice James W. Williams rejected the defence’s argument that he may have been was sleepwalking, but later acknowledged the young man was not “sufficiently mentally engaged with his actions so as to foresee that the bodily harm he inflicted would likely be fatal.”
Among the evidence presented in pre-sentence reports was a description of B.E.’s childhood – one full of parental neglect and dysfunction, with neither of his biological parents having a meaningful role of his life following an early time of separation.
“The suggestion that seems to emerge from the reports is that in fact, [B.E.] was not especially happy and that he harboured feelings of being alone, felt that he was neglected by his own family, and that he was not provided with the emotional support he needed by either his own family or his foster parents,” Williams wrote in his June 27 decision, recently published online.
Though he had taken work and educational placements, and received support from First Nations elders, his psychologist was not certain he would not repeat his “mysterious” behaviour, the judge wrote, adding that B.E. himself acknowledged the risk remained present.
Crown counsel had argued that B.E., now 19 years old, should spend 30 months in custody and the rest in the community, while the defense argued only one day should be spent in custody, in light of the time B.E. already been spent in detention.
“It is my expectation that he will be housed in a youth facility,” the judge said, “and that all reasonable measures will be taken to provide him with constructive programming and mental health support.”
“It is clear and obvious that this young person needs significant counselling and at the same time, he needs to appreciate the importance of discipline in doing the work he has to do to build up the lessons.”
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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