A final loose end from a 2017 drug-related double murder and attempted murder was tied up Wednesday when the last of four culprits was sentenced to life in prison no chance for parole for 15 years.
Perry Andrew Charlie, 29, was issued the term for his role in the Jan. 25, 2017 shooting deaths of David Laurin Franks and Thomas Burt Reed in their car at a pullout alongside Foothills Boulevard.
Bradley William Knight, who dove onto the back seat floor of the car, was badly injured but survived the attack. Reed's Shih Tzu dog, Molly, was also killed in the shooting.
Co-accused Joshua Steven West and Seaver Tye Miller and were respectively sentenced in November 2020 to 15 and 13 years before they can apply for parole. All three were issued the terms on counts of second-degree murder.
Aaron Ryan Moore was sentenced to five years on two counts of criminal negligence causing death in relation to the crime. Less credit for time served, he had 9 1/2 months remaining at the timeof sentencing in November 2019.
In issuing her decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church said the trio went to the spot ostensibly for the purpose of robbing Franks, who had gone there to sell some cocaine. Armed with loaded shotguns, they opened fire.
"As noted in my reasons for judgment, it is clear from the evidence of the extensive damage to the car that no one was supposed to survive," Church said. "This was extreme senseless violence and the moral blameworthiness of Mr. Charlie is therefore high."
During submissions on sentencing in February, Crown prosecution argued for as much as 16 years without eligibility for parole while defence counsel sought a term in the range of 13 years.
Church agreed with counsel that Charlie's involvement was more similar to West's than Miller's, who was found to be the leader of the scheme.
But Church also found that Charlie was "more entrenched in the criminal lifestyle" than West.
Charlie's record of criminal offences began in 2010 and continued "virtually unabated" until his arrest following the shootings, with convictions for break and enters, weapons and assaults and been issued to a life-time firearms prohibition.
Moreover, West pleaded guilty and and turned to the families of the victims to apologize directly prior to sentencing, Church noted.
Church recounted a troubled upbringing for Charlie. A member of the Takla First Nation, Charlie's formative years were filled with exposure to substance abuse, instability and sexual violence and trauma. At age four, the member of the Takla First Nation lost his father to a murder.
Expelled from high school in Vanderhoof for selling marijuana, at age 17 he moved to Prince George where he became involved in the city's drug culture.
Charlie has attributed his criminal involvement to "chronic substance abuse and negative associations" and has reported "unresolved grief and anger associated with the unsolved murder of his father and the impact of that loss on his family."
Perry was found guilty in November 2019. Church attributed most of the more-than two-year delay on sentencing to pandemic-related restrictions but noted that Charlie consented to the delay so that family could attend the proceedings.
Two of Reed's sisters also attended the hearings and expressed frustration with the postponements and claimed a double standard.
"We couldn't change the date because we could not make it," said Natalie Jones when she spoke to the Citizen following the decision.
Jones was also particularly upset that Charlie committed the crimes after he had been issued a lifetime firearms prohibition and questioned how much he will work towards rehabilitation.
As a result of the actions of Miller, Charlie and West, Reed has two grandchildren he will never see, Norine Reidy noted, because they were born after his death, "which is a shame because Tom loved his grandkids."
Charlie's mother, Bernice, said that if it wasn't for the drugs and a lack of sleep none of this would have happened.
After the sentence was issued, Charlie turned to Reed's family in the gallery and, in a soft voice, said: "I had no choice. I deliberately pretended that I didn't know how to work the safety and one of the others...grabbed the gun from me and I didn't shoot (anything)....sorry."
Perry was also sentenced to a concurrent term of 13 years less credit of seven years eight months for time served prior to sentencing for the attempted murder of Knight, leaving six years and four months on that sentence.
As for the sentences for the deaths of Reed and Franks, Perry has been in custody for five years and one month, which means he has slightly less than 10 years to go before he can seek parole. Whether it's granted will depend on his behaviour while behind bars as determined by a parole board panel.
Charlie was found guilty of second-degree murder after Church found the evidence presented by the Crown "falls far short" of showing there was the planning and deliberation for first degree murder.
It had been the Crown's theory that a hit had been ordered on Franks after he had offended someone in the local drug scene and had been lured to the scene on the pretext of selling some cocaine to a known customer.
Church said defence counsel countered with an "equally possible interpretation" that drug dealing can be a dangerous business and that the shooting began after "something went wrong."
A knife was found in the car and, according to testimony, Franks was out of the car for about a half-minute before the gunfire erupted.
In November 2019, Aaron Ryan Moore was sentenced to five years on two counts of criminal negligence causing death in relation to the crime. Less credit for time served, he had 9 1/2 months remaining.