Lisa Brule and Jordan Nande were sentenced Wednesday to 10 months in custody for being accessories after the fact to Breanna Menacho’s killing.
Brule, 21, and Nande, 25, admitted Monday to assisting Devon Larabie, 27, evade RCMP.
During Monday’s proceedings, Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson read a victim impact statement from Menacho’s mother.
“I can’t explain how heavy this load is, or the depth of my sadness,” she wrote.
She told the court that her daughter had planned to go to college to become a personal support worker, which “seemed to be a perfect fit because she was so caring.”
“There’s nothing worse than losing a child and nothing worse than struggling to understand how someone who loved with all her heart and soul could be done so wrong.”
Brule sobbed and repeated “I’m sorry” throughout the statement.
“I don’t deserve forgiveness from you,” Brule said, addressing Menacho’s family, “but I am really sorry. I never intended for this to happen and I’m sorry I got involved.”
Nande and Brule will serve 24 months of probation following their sentence.
“Good luck to you, both of you,” Shaner said to Nande and Brule.
To Menacho’s loved ones Shaner said “I’m very sorry.”
Menacho, 22, was found dead in a Yellowknife apartment on May 6. Larabie was charged with murder on May 8, and Nande and Brule were charged with being accessories after the fact on May 13. They have remained in custody since then.
Justice Karan Shaner accepted the Crown and defence lawyers’ joint position of nine to 12 months imprisonment, followed by a two-year probationary period.
For Brule, this means she will be released on probation based on the time she has already served in jail awaiting the outcome of her legal proceedings.
Nande still has a couple of months remaining to serve on an unrelated sentence of assault causing bodily harm.
In delivering her sentence, Shaner acknowledged the “significant” Gladue factors – social disadvantages affecting Indigenous peoples – were relevant for both offenders. The court heard Monday that Brule, who had been in foster care since age 8, was diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder – a disability caused by a mother who drinks during pregnancy.
Peter Harte, Brule’s lawyer, told the court that she struggled with her mental health for most of her life. Brule has been admitted to the hospital several times for suicidal tendencies. She estimates she has more than 100 scars on her arm from cutting, once going so far as to cause nerve damage in an infected injury that nearly required amputation.
Shaner gave Brule credit for having worked to support herself despite her circumstances.
“I have no trouble accepting that moral culpability is diminished,” Shaner said in relation to Brule’s personal history.
Nande, the court heard, was diagnosed earlier this year with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from trauma and abuse experienced in childhood.
Shaner also considered the offenders’ guilty pleas, which spared the victim’s family from having to sit through a trial on these charges.
Publication ban challenged
A publication ban prevents NNSL Media from disclosing the facts of the incident as they could interfere with Larabie’s right to a fair trial.
CBC contested the publication ban in a court hearing Wednesday morning.
MacPherson argued that publishing details of the night Menacho died could prejudice a jury. He acknowledged the importance of court proceedings being open to the public and the “great service” the media provides “to the people of Yellowknife and to the Northwest Territories.”
He said that publication bans are only issued in rare occasions but submits that “this is one of those occasions.”
The publication ban would only be temporary, he said, until a jury is selected, or if the case is no longer proceeding to trial.
“We’re not asking for the press to be muzzled here,” MacPherson said. “The story will still get out at some point, there just would be a delay to protect the interests of the accused.”
CBC lawyer Tess Layton called the ban “unjustified.” She said that “jurors would be confronted with the evidence in any event,” and argued “freedom of expression, as a charter right, should be given heightened consideration.”
Shaner said she would release a written decision by Dec. 18 and has extended the temporary publication ban until then.