Teen murder sentences ‘slap on the wrist’: victim’s family
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Danielle Cote never saw her youngest child enter kindergarten. Her four children won’t again see their mother at birthdays, graduations or weddings.
On July 1, 2020, the 27-year-old died after being shot in the back of the head while walking with her cousin to a Winnipeg convenience store to get snacks so they could watch a movie at home.
Two male teens convicted of the Canada Day murder were sentenced Monday: one to an adult sentence of life imprisonment with no chance of parole for seven years; the other to a seven-year youth sentence.
Cote’s younger sister, Laura, said the surviving family have also received their own life sentences of trauma, questions and seeing her young children grow up without a mother.
“The oldest is 11, and she didn’t even see her youngest son (now five) go to kindergarten,” Laura said Monday in an interview. “My niece is 11 and she is struggling because she doesn’t have a mom. You have four babies growing up without a mom.
“I could understand if this was a case of self-defence, if they were fighting for their life, but this is murder. I don’t understand how these kids are getting away with it,” she said.
“This is a slap on the wrist… they should absolutely got more time. He takes a life, gets life, but he won’t do life.”
Cote’s cousin, who was 18 at the time and shot in the face before the youth fatally turned the rifle her, still is traumatized over the incident, Laura said. He survived by playing dead.
“He stays up North — he doesn’t come to Winnipeg,” she said. “He hasn’t been able to move on yet… He watched as they came back to see if my sister was dead.
“They shot her because they didn’t want a witness. It just upsets me. They get to have their life and have a life, yet they took my sister.”
Laura said when she was younger, she, too, was involved in the justice system and spent time at the Manitoba Youth Centre.
“The one who got seven years will probably be out in a year,” she said. “I know how it works. He’ll just do two-thirds of that.
“Don’t get me wrong — someone failed these kids. They didn’t have the guidance they needed, but there is a line and they crossed it. When they shot my sister they knew what they were doing.
“Seven years is nothing compared to taking a life away.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.