I have a good understanding of the complexities of crime and the issues that face Judges when they deliberate on sentencing decisions.
What I don’t understand is why the Courts waste time deliberating on sentencing decisions that have all the outward appearances of a “slam dunk.” Decisions like the one currently facing Judge Rocky Pollack as he ponders the fate of Gerald Crayford’s seventeen (17) year old killer. Crayford was the unfortunate Pizza Hotline employee who happened to be working on May 15, 2011, at the Concordia Ave location when a pair of gangsters came into the store intent on committing an armed Robbery.
When Crayford tried to stop them, the youth, (15) years old at the time, struck him with an axe delivering a blow that caused catastrophic injuries. Crayford was rushed to hospital but succumbed to his injuries the next day. The youth was subsequently arrested, charged and now stands convicted of second degree murder.
Crown Attorney Wendy Friesen prosecuted the case and is arguing to have the teen sentenced as an adult which would translate to an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for five (5) to seven (7) years.
Defense is arguing to have the convicted killer sentenced as a youth offender, which would translate to a life sentence with a four (4) year period of incarceration followed by a three (3) year period of supervision in the community.
To support her argument the Crown cited a pre-sentence report that showed the offender had a number of issues that included;
- He was a member of the West Side Crips Street Gang
- He had an inflated sense of self-esteem
- He had issues controlling his temper
- He had been repeatedly suspended from school
- He was involved in fights and threatened to kill a staff member at Agassiz Youth Center
- He has a criminal record for Robbery with a weapon, possess weapon and uttering threats
The most significant issue; the report indicated the offender showed “very little remorse” for his role in the killing and that he is likely to re-offend. It’s also important to note the youth played a leadership role in the incident despite the fact his partner in crime was an adult offender.
Defense countered with the usual sentencing sob story trying to diminish the youths culpability by telling the Court the boy was raised in a home filled with violence and drug use. An over used argument the public seems to have become somewhat desensitized to.
Is it any wonder Pizza Hotline CEO Jerry Cianflone is disgusted with what he calls the “revolving door justice system.” Cianflone is equally disgusted with the inadequate sentencing provisions of the YCJA (Youth Criminal Justice Act), an act that ensures hard-core offenders like Crayford’s killer will only see four (4) years behind bars for their horrific crimes.
“That’s just crazy, there’s nothing more than a few years of jail time for a crime like that. Whether you’re young or older, there needs to be more than that,” Cianflone said in an interview with Tamara King. It would be my guess the majority of the Canadian public fully supports the sentiments expressed by Mr Cianflone.
In this case, the need to protect the public from this dangerous, violent, unrepentant killer should make this sentencing decision a virtual slam dunk.
After all, isn’t murder a big boy crime?
If you’re “down” for doing a big boy crime then you should be “down” for doing some big boy time.
Judge Pollack reserved his decision until May 31, 2013.
In my respectful opinion, the wheels of Justice could turn a bit faster on this one.
The Power of Words – Sentencing Sob Stories
Winnipeg Free Press: Aldo Santin – Judge Delays Decision on Sentencing of Teenage Killer
Winnipeg Free Press: Aldo Santin – Pizza Hotline Killer to be Punished May 31