A Prince Rupert male has been found guilty of unlawful manslaughter in the deaths of his foster parents in 2017.
The judgement was made in June 2019 and released on Tuesday.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act prohibits the publication of the name and any details that might identify the (at the time) young offender. The court, in their decision, refers to the youth as B.E. and his foster mom as S.L and foster dad as H.L.
In the early morning on Oct. 18 2017, police responded to a call from B.E. regarding a stabbing in the 400 block of Ninth Ave. West.
“I can’t remember what I did. I, I stabbed my parents,” he told the dispatcher, according to the evidence presented before the court.
When police arrived at the residence they found S.L. and H.L. suffering from serious injuries.
S.L. was rushed to Prince Rupert hospital but died of her injuries eight days later after being medevaced to Vancouver.
H.L. died of his injuries on the day of the incident.
The then-17-year-old B.E. was taken into custody that evening and later charged with two counts of second-degree murder.
The court found B.E. not guilty of second-degree murder — a deliberate killing without planning however, B.E. was instead found guilty of unlawful manslaughter — a crime committed by an individual that unintentionally results in the death of another.
B.E.’s trial commenced before the provincial court in Prince Rupert, in mid-April 2019 with final submissions heard in May. A total of 12 witnesses were called before the court. Pursuant to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the case was heard without a jury present.
B.E. entered a plea of not guilty but admitted before the court that he stabbed his two foster parents and caused their deaths. The question before the court was if, beyond a reasonable doubt, B.E. not only caused the deaths of his foster parents but also that he did so with criminal intent.
When S.L. was being treated at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, before transferring to Vancouver, she was interviewed by police.
S.L. told officers that there had been no history of violence with B.E. On the night of the incident B.E. walked into her room, she felt like she was hit by something, and B.E. told her he was going to call 911, she stated to the police.
The investigation also found no evidence that B.E. was intoxicated at the time.
The Crown argued that B.E. was not impaired by his judgment, his mental state showed no evidence of a disorder, and he was at an age where he could understand the consequences of his actions and therefore meant to cause harm knowing it could result in death.
The defence argued B.E. was sleepwalking.
“I went straight to my room and went to bed and fell asleep, like I that when [S.L.] went up to her room like her footsteps on the stairs kind of woke me I went up to go get a drink of water then I went back to bed then I fell asleep — kind of felt like a nightmare […] I woke up and I saw so, so much blood everywhere it scared me,” B.E. told police following the incident. “… what scared me more was because H.L … was bleeding and he, his voice was calm, his voice was calm.”
However, the judge did not agree fully with the defence.
“Certainly, I do not believe that B.E.’s mental state at the time he made his attack on S.L. was such that I could find that his mind was disengaged from his actions so as to be in a state of non-insane automatism. However, I do have a doubt that he was sufficiently mentally engaged with his actions so as to foresee that the bodily harm he inflicted would likely be fatal,” the judge wrote in his decision.
The defence also pointed out there was no history of violence or animosity between B.E. and his foster parents and he phoned 911 right after the incident.
The presiding judge found that there was a lack of evidence to prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt but found “that the Crown has proven the included offence of manslaughter, in respect of each of those two persons.”
No sentence has been issued yet. There is no mandatory penalty for unlawful manslaughter, except in cases involving firearms. Sentences can range from probation to life imprisonment.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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