WETASKIWIN, Alta. - Relatives of a five-year-old boy who was shot dead as he slept in his bed on an Alberta reserve don't want to be part of a sentencing conference for one of three teens who fired the gun.
A sentencing hearing for the three youths was delayed in a Wetaskiwin, Alta., court Wednesday to give a restorative justice panel time to come up with sentencing recommendations for one of the teens.
The panel is to hear from the youth, now 19, and a report will go to the judge hearing the case. Any recommendations aren't binding, but Debbie Buffalo fears the teen could get a reduced sentence for his role in the death of her grandson Ethan Yellowbird.
"It's a matter of one individual that is going through this process trying to save (his) butt, and I don't want any part of that process."
She said Ethan's parents won't be at the sentencing conference either.
"I believe that what restorative justice does is good, but the people who are involved have to be genuinely remorseful and I don't see any remorse at all. None of them have approached any of our family to say they're sorry."
The teens — 13, 16 and 17 at the time of the shooting — pleaded guilty in November to manslaughter.
They admitted they took turns firing a rifle at a home on the Samson Cree reserve in Hobbema in July 2011. Although no motive has been given in court, RCMP have said the teens have gang ties and the reserve has been plagued by gang violence for years.
Court heard the oldest boy fired one shot above the house, then passed the gun to the other youths and walked away. The other two each fired two shots at the house and one of them struck Ethan in the head.
The boy had been sleeping in a tiny fire-truck bed in a room with his father, his father's girlfriend and their one-year old child.
An agreed statement of facts submitted to the court said it's unclear which of the three teens fired the shot that killed Ethan. But the oldest youth, who fired above the house, is on bail while the other two remain in custody. It's the oldest who is getting the restorative justice conference.
Lawyers are to make sentencing arguments when the teens return to court March 20.
Crown prosecutor Trent Wilson has already indicated he plans to ask for the maximum youth sentence for the offence — two years in custody followed by one year of supervision.