Crown wants seven-year adult sentence for teen involved in death of Serena McKay
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/06/2018 (1626 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hearing her own drunken words and the sounds of relentless blows to Serena McKay’s bloodied face, the teenager who started a deadly beating began to cry in a Winnipeg courtroom Monday.
While multiple computer screens played gruesome videos that were posted on social media, the 17 year old grabbed tissues and wiped her eyes in the prisoner’s box, awaiting the consequences of the violence she carried out in the early hours of April 23, 2017 after a house party on Sagkeeng First Nation.
A co-accused teenage female youth who has since been sentenced for second-degree murder captured the beating on a cellphone camera and shared the videos online, drawing national attention to 19-year-old McKay’s brutal slaying.
“Her actions not only shocked but disgusted the entire country,” Crown attorney Jennifer Comack told court.
Prosecutors are seeking an adult prison sentence of seven years for manslaughter. The accused was 16 at the time of the beating and can’t be named under a provision of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. If she’s sentenced as a youth — an option her defence lawyers are expected to argue in favour of Tuesday — she’ll face a maximum three-year sentence, only part of which will be spent in custody.
“It is not long enough to reflect the seriousness of what she did,” Comack said.
Provincial court Judge Lindy Choy will have to decide what sentence to impose on the teen, who has claimed to have no memory of the beating she started. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year and later told a probation officer she blacked out from drinking alcohol soon after she arrived at the Saturday-night house party McKay also attended.
McKay was kicked out of the party after an argument erupted over alcohol. One of her would-be killers, then 17, had earlier taken her into the bathroom to try to calm her down because she didn’t want a fight to break out.
Outside the house, though, she joined in and used her cellphone to capture video as the younger girl asked her to take over the beating. Earlier this month, the older co-accused received the maximum seven-year youth sentence for second-degree murder; just over three years will be spent in custody.
The beating continued behind the house. Afterward, McKay’s killers went inside and locked the door. They left her outside to freeze to death after inflicting 67 injuries to her head and body.
“I don’t want to f—ing see her alive,” the now-17-year-old is heard shouting in the video while McKay is on the ground, trying to cover her swollen face.
“Does that sound like an adolescent talking? It certainly does not,” Comack said, arguing the teen was already living as an adult and shouldn’t be sentenced as a youth. After the beating, a photo of her covered in McKay’s blood appeared on Snapchat with the caption, “just chillin’.”
“While you watch those videos, you will not see an adolescent. You will see an adult,” Comack told Choy just before the videos were played in court. “You will see a woman full of rage beating on a helpless victim.”
The now-17-year-old was raised by her mother in Alberta. In the months before the beating, she was couch-surfing with her father’s family in Sagkeeng, skipping school, drinking and doing drugs including cocaine and illegally-obtained prescription pills.
“All of this goes beyond that of a rebellious teenager experimenting,” Comack said.
Both of the youths who admitted to killing McKay had substance-abuse problems, but the now-17-year-old’s was much worse, Comack said, noting she doesn’t have any cognitive impairments.
“She had an extremely good childhood. She was raised to know right from wrong — capable of knowing right from wrong — taught the difference and just didn’t do it,” Comack said.
Defence lawyers James Wood and Serena Ehrmantraut are set to argue the teen should receive a less-severe sentence than the one sought by the Crown.
McKay’s mother, Delores Daniels, read aloud an updated victim impact statement Monday, saying she still dreams about her only daughter and wakes up crying.
“My daughter did not deserve to die and our family should not have to go through what we’ve gone through with her death,” Daniels said.
McKay was from Winnipeg, but had been staying with family friends in the Pine Falls area while she attended Grade 12 classes at Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School. Daniels said she’d thought her daughter would be safer in Pine Falls than in the city.
It’s “unacceptable,” she said, that videos of the beating can still be found online, despite authorities’ attempts to take them down.
“She didn’t know anyone in Sagkeeng, nor did she have anywhere to go nearby. I certainly would not want videos of me being shared after I passed away. I am fully disappointed in the justice system and I do also believe that all of those involved must be held accountable for their actions.”
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.