The knife fight that ended Trevor Johnson’s life lasted just 12 seconds, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman heard Friday during the sentencing hearing for Johnson’s killer, Thavone Junior Carlson.
The court heard that Johnson, 35, was looking to score heroin on the night of Feb. 19, 2015, when he met up with Carlson at a Petro-Canada at the corner of Maclure and Townline roads.
Carlson, 20, had sold to Johnson before, but had apparently rebuffed the older man earlier, before hopping in his girlfriend’s car and heading to the gas station. Johnson, driven by a friend and accompanied by his own girlfriend, followed Carlson’s car to the station. He had earlier suggested to his girlfriend that he might try to steal from Carlson. When she saw Johnson place a large pair of scissors in the pocket of his pants, he told her they were for “additional protection.”
The court heard that Carlson and Johnson engaged in a minute-long conversation in the Petro-Canada store, with an employee overhearing that Johnson was unhappy with the quality of product being offered. The pair then went to leave the store, at which point Johnson quickly turned around and attempted to sucker-punch Carlson, according to one witness.
“You want to get shanked?” a witness heard one of the men say.
What followed was a quick fight, much of which occurred on the hood of Carlson’s Ford Focus. From inside the vehicle, Carlson’s girlfriend said she saw both men wielding what appeared to be knives. Video surveillance showed Carlson with apparently the upper-hand during the fight. When the men separated, Johnson picked himself up off the ground and retreated to the car he had arrived in.
“Take me to the hospital,” he told the driver, repeatedly. Johnson had apparently been stabbed in the abdomen and was bleeding profusely.
After retrieving something from the ground, Carlson got into the Focus. “Drive! Drive! Go! Go!” he said to his girlfriend. He had sustained a single gash to his hand.
Upon arriving at hospital, Johnson was found to have suffered eight different wounds. Seven of those were to his upper body, but the most serious was a wound to his leg that had severed an artery and caused massive bleeding. Shortly after midnight, Johnson, the father of a young girl, was pronounced dead.
Carlson was arrested the next day. A search of the home would turn up packages of heroin for selling, along with the knife used during the fight. Police never recovered any scissors or other weapon wielded by Johnson.
On Friday, Carlson, now 22, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the killing. Silverman accepted a joint submission from Crown counsel and the defence that will see Carlson spend two more years in prison – on top of the 14 months he has already spent in jail – to be followed by three years probation.
The sentence was “on the low side” for manslaughter, Crown counsel Carolyn Lawlor told the justice, but reflects the circumstances of the case – namely, that there was no intent to kill and Carlson was not the original aggressor – along with the hope that Carlson will receive the guidance needed to turn his life around. A prison sentence exceeding two years would have seen Carlson spend time in a federal prison, and a probationary term would not have been available, Lawlor noted. Since being jailed in February, he has been a “model prisoner,” according to both defence and Crown.
Carlson does not have a criminal record, but the court heard he has an “unfortunate” background, with two family members murdered over the past decade. Abandoned as an infant by his mother, Carlson went to live in Alberta with his grandparents. He later moved to Surrey to live with his brother, but in 2007, that brother, Eddie Narong, was murdered in the infamous Surrey Six killings. As a teenager, Narong had pleaded guilty of manslaughter in the killing of another teen by a group of young men and became linked to the UN gang.
Three years later, Thavone Narong– the father of Eddie Narong and Thavone Carlson – was gunned down in September 2010 in his car in the 3000 block of Charles Court. No one has ever been charged in the killing of the 49-year-old man.