By Tim Petruk
Kamloops This Week
The Crown wants a Salmon Arm man who shot a romantic rival to death in an elementary schoolyard handed an adult life sentence.
The man, who cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was convicted of first-degree murder in June by a B.C. Supreme Court jury. His identity will become public if he is handed an adult sentence.
Now 25, the man was 16 when he shot and killed Tyler Myers in the schoolyard of Salmon Arm’s Bastion elementary on Nov. 21, 2008. His sentencing hearing began yesterday in a packed courtroom in Kamloops.
After lunch, the hearing was moved to a larger room to accommodate the gallery.
Court heard the killer and his then-girlfriend, Monica Sikorski, plotted to kill Myers. Both men were involved in romantic relationships with Sikorski, who was 17 at the time. She pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder and was handed an adult life sentence, making her name public.
Sikorski and the male killer arranged to lure Myers to the schoolyard, where the male killer waited with a rifle in a stand of trees.
At trial, the male killer claimed he was hoping only to scare Myers. When he hit Myers with his first shot, he claimed, he panicked and fired two more bullets — including one to the back of the head — at the injured man.
Sikorski and the male killer then rifled through Myers’ pockets to make the slaying look like a drug deal gone bad, court heard.
They were interviewed by police the following day, but both denied any involvement in Myers’ death. They were arrested in November 2012 at the conclusion of an RCMP Mr. Big undercover sting targeting Sikorski. Undercover Mounties posing as gangsters told Sikorski police were building a case against her relating to Myers’ death. She then revealed details of the slaying to them in an effort to have the supposed gangsters pin the murder on a fall guy.
The male killer met with Sikorski and an undercover Mountie on Oct. 29, 2012, and admitted his involvement. He was arrested a week later.
Court heard a psychiatrist found the killer and Sikorski “colluded with each other.” The doctor also said Myers’ murder required “significant planning” and “intention.”
In seeking a life sentence for the male killer, Crown prosecutor Evan Goulet said the jury clearly did not buy the killer’s story — as was seen in the jury’s first-degree murder guilty verdict.
“He almost got away with murder,” Goulet said. “He was very aware of what he was doing. Had it not been for the efforts of the RCMP, he may well have gotten away with it.
“This was not just one step or one bad decision. He demonstrated a resolve to ensure this was done. He took a shot that went directly into the back of Mr. Myers’ head while he was laying on the ground. For an offence of this nature with these facts, the only way to hold [the killer] accountable is to impose an adult sentence.”
An adult life sentence would carry with it a 10-year period of parole ineligibility, but the killer will remain under the supervision of parole officers for the rest of his life. If sentenced as a youth, the maximum sentence will be six years behind bars, followed by a four-year period of supervision in the community.
Defence lawyer Donna Turko asked B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan to sentence the killer as a youth, in part to avoid having him become “institutionalized” — like young offenders can be in adult penitentiaries.
“They haven’t had as much life experience and they’re more susceptible to be influenced by men who are 50, 60, 70 years old,” Turko said. “It is the punishment that will affect [the killer] maybe more negatively than if we went the youth route.”
Turko suggested the killer was addicted to the affection of Sikorski.
“It’s no different than a drug seeker,” she said. “He was constantly seeking Monica.”
The killer admitted to being the trigger man at the start of his B.C. Supreme Court trial, pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Prosecutors, however, went ahead with the trial on a charge of first-degree murder and were ultimately successful.
A date for the killer’s sentencing had not been set as of KTW‘s press deadline, but the sentencing hearing is slated to continue today.