Defence lawyers for a Winnipeg man who pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the 2016 death of Cooper Nemeth, 17, have chosen not to object to a large number of victim impact statements submitted to the Crown for sentencing.
A sentencing hearing for Nicholas Bell-Wright was delayed last Monday because the Crown received 96 victim impact statements from family and friends.
Court has previously heard concerns that the large number of statements could be seen by some as having a disproportionate effect on the outcome of sentencing, but Bell-Wright’s lawyers have chosen not to object to the inclusion of the 96 statements, although not all of them will be read in court.
The Crown, which previously told court legislation prevented it from picking and choosing which statements to include, told Justice Glenn Joyal 16 victim impact statements will be read by family members and friends of Nemeth on Wednesday when the sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place.
It’s estimated that would take around 1.5 hours, court heard.
The Crown told court it received the statements the week prior to sentencing and didn’t know so many would be submitted.
“It took us by surprise,” Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson told court. “I understand they were brought by a family member to our office.”
“I had no idea 96 were coming. I would say, in fairness, we acted as quickly and as diligently as we could under the circumstances.”
Asked by Joyal what the Crown’s position would be if everyone who submitted a victim impact statement wanted to read it in court, Eyrikson responded by saying the Crown’s position would be to allow it.
Joyal told court moving forward the matter has to be addressed in a way which is fair to the accused and fair to the victim’s family.
“There has to be practical, predictable, and clear guidelines,” Joyal told court. “In this case, I don’t want to prolong this dispute any longer.”
Joyal said a “practice directive” would be forthcoming on how to handle a large number of victim impact statements.
“This case ought to be seen as a precedent for nothing,” Joyal told court.
Family and friends of Nemeth said outside court they’re relieved that all the submissions will be allowed. Family members said they didn’t expect all 96 to be read during sentencing.
Published at Mon, 22 Jan 2018 13:23:22 -0500