One of my favourite crime reporters did it again!
He managed to find a crime story that made me grind my teeth.
It was the story of a horrific domestic violence assault perpetrated by an offender identified as Jared Smoke (24), who shot and brutalized the mother of his child in a 2009 attack.
Smoke shot the twenty-two (22) year old victim with a sawed off Ruger rifle inside of her Furby Street apartment after subjecting her to a brutal beating. The woman’s infant child and other witnesses were present at the time of the incident. The bullet caused “massive destruction” to her forearm after she raised it in a an effort to defend herself. After passing through her arm the projectile grazed the victim’s cheek and fractured her skull.
After the shooting Smoke and the others present fled from the apartment leaving the woman in a pool of blood with her infant child.
Police investigated and subsequently charged Smoke with attempt murder and discharging a prohibited firearm with intent to wound.
On Thursday, March 13, 2014, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin acquitted Smoke of attempt murder and convicted him of the lesser charge of aggravated assault. Smoke was also convicted of the firearm offence.
In rendering his decision, Justice Martin indicated the Crown had not proved their case for attempt murder, “Smoke meant to use the gun in the assault, and in doing so he discharged the gun but without specifically meaning to kill her,” he said. “I’m not sure that he specifically intended to kill her,” he added.
While I appreciate the charge of attempt murder is one of the most difficult charges to prove in the Criminal Code of Canada, I struggle with the Judge’s inability to connect the dots in this case.
It seems that simple logic and common sense are no longer components of a justice system that continues down a frightening path.
Once Justice Martin arrived at the conclusion Smoke intended to shoot the victim the rest should have been easy. Knowledge of firearms or human anatomy shouldn’t be required to conclude the intentional use of a firearm during a domestic assault is sufficient evidence to convict an offender of attempt murder.
(The fact the rifle was pointed at the woman’s head should have made the decision academic.)
How incredibly lucky do you have to be to shoot someone with a rifle and not kill them?
The human body is a complex creation full of vital organs and arteries that are likely to suffer catastrophic, fatal injuries when projectiles moving at 2,400 feet per second are fired into them. There are very few places you can actually shoot a human being with a rifle and not cause their death. Who, might I ask, doesn’t know that?
What other possible expectation might Smoke have had when he fired that shot in the direction of the young mother’s face?
What kind of anger and rage do you think Smoke was feeling when he intentionally pulled that trigger?
That combination of anger, rage and firearm must have surely translated to an intention to kill, even if it was a fleeting one.
How is it the Judge couldn’t get there?
What meaning do advocates for violence against women take from Justice Martin’s decision?
I have to ask, was Smoke the benefactor of some distorted sense of Gladue-esque like sensitivity or was the decision influenced by judicial desensitization?
A pre-sentence report recently completed by a Probation Officer in connection with a killing that occurred on the Bloodvein First Nation might provide some insight. The report indicated domestic violence is so common in the community it’s become “normalized” and residents “accept it as a fact of life.” The killer was sentenced to two years less a day. The sentence is suggestive of a judiciary that also views domestic violence in much the same light.
Whatever the case, the value of life, Aboriginal and otherwise, remains ridiculously cheap in the Province of Manitoba.
Is it a problem with the Judge, the law, the justice system, societal disinterest or a combination thereof?
Jared Smoke will be sentenced later this year.
One thing is certain, decisions like these do nothing to promote respect for the administration of criminal justice in the Province of Manitoba.
They don’t do much to denounce domestic violence either.
Tell me your thoughts…..
-every person who attempts by any means to commit murder is guilty of an indictable offences and is liable to imprisonment for life
-mandatory minimums apply in cases of attempt murder involving firearms
-every person commits an aggravated assault who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant
-aggravated assault comes with a maximum term of fourteen years in prison