A member of Yellowknife’s notorious King family told a court on Monday he wants to become “a law-abiding person” and escape the dark cloud hanging over his siblings.
Speaking through tears at a sentencing hearing, Travis King was trying to convince NWT Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau that he wants to turn his life around.
“I know there has been a lot of negativity [surrounding] me, my brother, and my family, and I want to break that chain,” the 22-year-old said, as his mother and girlfriend watched from the public gallery.
“This has caused a lot of stress on people I care about and I’m deeply sorry for it.”
King said he “made some wrong choices” and takes full responsibility for them, adding he wants to get an education “sooner, rather than later.”
“I’m not a bad person,” he told the court.
‘Motivated by profit’
King’s older brother, Denecho, is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 12 years for the second-degree murder of John Wifladt and aggravated assault of Colin Digness.
Another older brother, Denezah, pleaded guilty to mischief and breach of court conditions last year.
Travis King had pleaded guilty to possession of property obtained by crime. A charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking was dismissed.
Crown prosecutor Brendan Green called for a sentence of between nine and 12 months for what he characterized as a commercial trafficking operation “motivated by profit, as opposed to the addict/dealer situation.”
In the spring of 2017, a federal surveillance operation focused on two locations: an apartment in the 300-block of Matonabee Street, in Yellowknife city centre, and campground number one at Fred Henne Territorial Park near the airport.
A Ford Escape under watch by the feds was stopped on May 31 and a search warrant was executed for the vehicle, a trailer in the campground, and the apartment.
King was a passenger in the SUV.
Searches of the trailer, the vehicle and its occupants, and the apartment turned up approximately 35 grams of cocaine, roughly $20,000 in cash, cell phones, a shotgun, ammunition and digital scales.
Apprehended aged one
King was on bail when he was arrested. Earlier, in May 2016, King had been charged after a vehicle was stopped by RCMP between Enterprise and Hay River. In that incident, police found just over 110 grams of powdered cocaine in a baggie stuffed down the back of his pants.
He was released on bail, but re-arrested and his bail revoked after being charged with cocaine trafficking in Saskatchewan in the fall of 2017. That case is still before the courts.
In May of last year, he pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking regarding the 2016 Hay River arrest and was sentenced to 30 months, with two years probation, for possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
When sentencing him last June, Justice Karan Shaner said the neglect King faced as a child – which included violence and alcohol abuse by adults his home – called for a lighter sentence than usual for similar crimes.
In court on Monday, defence lawyer Peter Harte noted King was first apprehended by social workers at the age of one. He was apprehended again a few years later and ended up homeless on the streets of Yellowknife in his teen years.
Harte asked Charbonneau to consider a sentence of around six months so that, in the end, he would avoid a sentence of two years or more (sentences above two years would send King to a prison outside the NWT).
Before being taken back to the holding cells in the courthouse, King asked permission from his RCMP escort to hug and kiss his mother and girlfriend, which was granted.
Charbonneau reserved her decision until Wednesday at 1:30pm.