Prosecutors are seeking one to 1.5 years of jail time and supervision for a Kelowna woman charged with stabbing and killing 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard in June 2019.
The sentencing of the 19-year-old, whose identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act as she was 17 at the time of the incident, took place at Kelowna Law Courts on Friday (June 18).
Crown prosecutor David Grabavac said the appropriate sentence for the woman is two to three years, with one-half of that sentence serving as a custodial sentence. But defence counsel Joe Killoran suggested the woman instead receive support through the Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) program, adding that incarcerating her would do more harm than good.
“We’re dealing with a young woman who requires wrap-around supports. She requires some help. She’s made a lot of progress in terms of her sobriety, her mental health and substance abuse,” he said.
Verbal dispute ends in stabbing
At the time of the stabbing, both the woman and Beauregard were living on the streets.
At around 11:20 p.m. on June 27, 2019, the woman stabbed Beauregard twice in the arm, behind a Bank of Montreal building in downtown Kelowna.
Witnesses said that Beauregard cried out, “I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding, my arm is bleeding,” after being stabbed. The woman then replied with, “That’s what happens, you deserved it, good,” before leaving the area.
Defence submissions revealed that the woman came from a broken family and had no connection to her Indigenous community, had been raped and sexually assaulted on numerous occasions and struggled with a number of mental health illnesses, as well as substance and alcohol abuse.
Before the stabbing took place, witnesses described the two as intoxicated and were involved in a verbal altercation that spanned 10 to 15 minutes, which revolved around the woman accusing Beauregard of drugging and raping her, an allegation that was not proven in court.
Once injured, Beauregard was rushed to the hospital, as the stab to his elbow punctured his brachial artery, causing significant blood loss, shock and loss of consciousness. His arm was subsequently amputated and he had little to no brain activity before he was taken off life support three days later.
Since the offence, which she pleaded guilty to in April, the woman has completed a 10-week substance abuse program.
‘I’m trying to be a good person’
In a statement written by her read aloud in court, the woman said she is committed to staying sober, has graduated high school, reconnected with her family, transitioned into living on her own and hopes to be a social worker in the future.
“I have closed the door completely to the old me. I’m trying every single day to be a good person,” she spoke.
Doctor reports read by Killoran stated the woman is considered a low-risk threat to the public as long as she remains sober and avoids peers who are dealing with substance abuse and alcoholism.
“If a custodial sentence is considered, an important consideration would be the high likelihood that it would disrupt the present positive shift and the present ability to actively expand and promote her community supports and skills towards becoming a productive and pro-social adult in the community,” said Killoran.
A second-day of sentence hearing is scheduled for sometime in the next coming weeks, as Justice Gregory Koturbash said that he wants to sentence the woman before she turns 20 in late July. As stated by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, no young person shall remain in a youth custody facility if they are 20 or older, which is something Koturbash said he wants to avoid.
“People are angry with her. They’re more likely to be in a custodial sentence and custodial facility. She’ll be more likely to encounter them there,” said Killoran.
A letter written by the woman addressed to Beauregard’s parents was read out loud at the court, where she said that she was terribly sorry and ashamed for taking his life.
‘I did the unthinkable’
“Eli was a good person. We both got caught up in a lifestyle that no kid or young adult should live. I did the unthinkable and I live with that for the rest of my life,” she wrote.
Beauregard’s mother, Emily Steele, read out loud a victim statement to the courtroom, detailing the mental health issues she’s been struggling with since the death of her son.
“I will never feel the same again. I will never get to see him and his smile. I will never get to see his green eyes twinkle with the light. I will never get to hear him laugh with joy. I will never get to hear him say ‘I love you, mom’ again,” she said.
“This kills me more than you ever know. This has changed my life forever and it’s not for the good. I hope you understand that there’s nothing you can say or do that will ever change the way I feel about this situation.”