Found guilty of stabbing 19-year-old stranger Brittany Bung to death while in the grip of a drug-induced psychosis, Jordan Belyk apologized to the innocent victim’s family Tuesday, promising his long days of addiction are behind him.
"I feel extremely terrible for what has happened… I am truly sorry," Belyk told court. "I hope my path to sobriety and this chance to apologize brings some closure to the family."
Belyk, 24, stood trial for second-degree murder but was convicted by a judge in January of the reduced charge of manslaughter.
Bung was attacked Oct. 3, 2017, just minutes after Belyk crossed paths with her at a Lac du Bonnet gas station.
Just one week before the killing, Belyk was spared jail and sentenced to one-year probation after pleading guilty to a drunken assault on a Winnipeg street.
Belyk’s decision to start using drugs again upon his release set him on a crash course with tragedy, argued Crown attorney Danielle Simard, who recommended Queen’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey sentence Belyk to 12-15 years in prison.
"The accused chose to consume illicit drugs for years. The accused knew he had a drug problem," Simard said. "This scenario should draw a sentence at the higher end."
Belyk has been in custody since the day of the killing.
Defence lawyers recommended he be sentenced to just two more years in custody, which would allow for an additional three years of supervised probation upon his release.
Belyk has shown "shame and regret" for the killing and understands how his drug use impacted his behaviour, defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said.
Killer jumped in car at gas station
Belyk and Bung were not known to each other before Belyk, wearing no shoes or shirt, walked into a Lac du Bonnet gas station shortly before 6:30 a.m.
At trial, an employee at the station testified Belyk followed Bung to her car and jumped in the front seat, said: "Let’s get the f--- out of here," and reclined the seat as if hiding as Bung drove away.
Seven minutes later, Bung called 911, telling an operator a man had jumped in her car and started stabbing her.
Bung was able to exit the car and was found collapsed at the intersection of Provincial Road 502 and Edward Crescent.
Bung suffered 14 stab wounds to her face, neck and chest, and 25 defensive wounds to her hands. She died less than an hour later, en route to hospital in Pinawa.
Court heard Belyk, who had no ties to Lac du Bonnet, had been on a drug binge and hadn’t slept for days at the time of the killing.
An RCMP toxicologist testified blood sample screen tests found methamphetamine and cocaine in Belyk’s system, but she was unable to confirm the presence of the drugs to the standard required by the police service’s forensic unit.
However, Belyk’s behaviour was consistent with a diagnosis of substance-induced psychotic disorder, testified Dr. Edward Cetaruk, a Colorado physician called by the defence and qualified by the court as an expert in emergency room medicine and medical technology.
Consumption of methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs can change a user’s behaviour for long periods of time, with sleep deprivation increasing the risk they will suffer a psychotic episode, Cetaruk said.
17 victim-impact statements detail loss
Court heard Belyk’s substance abuse problems could be traced to the 2011 killing of his biological mother, an addict herself.
Bung’s family and friends provided 17 victim-impact statements, describing the hole her death has left in their lives.
"We are still in shock she is gone… She deserved to live a full life," said Leann Bung, describing her daughter as a "kind, compassionate and caring soul" who hoped to enrol in culinary school.
Family friend Sheryl McLean said the killing has left her anxious, moody and forever fearful for her own children’s safety.
"Brittany’s death has broken my humanity," she said.
McKelvey will sentence Belyk on May 11.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.