Two people have pleaded guilty to being accessories after the fact to murder in the death of 22-year-old Breanna Menacho in Yellowknife.
Jordan Nande, 24, appeared in court wearing a white t-shirt and jeans. Lisa Brule, 21, wearing a blue sweatshirt and nursing a mug of tea, appeared by video from the Fort Smith Correctional Complex.
In a joint submission, both pleaded guilty to assisting Devon Larabie, 27 –who is accused of murdering Menacho – in evading police.
The charges against Larabie have not yet been proven in court.
Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson argued that based on the facts of the case, both Nande and Brule should be sentenced to between nine and 12 months’ jail time. He said this should be followed by two years’ probation with a focus on rehabilitation and counselling.
Defence lawyers Peter Harte and Jay Bran agreed to sentences within that range, which are close or equal to the time their clients have already served in pre-sentencing custody.
Justice Karan Shaner reserved her decision in the case until the afternoon of December 9.
RCMP announced they were investigating a “suspicious death” after discovering Menacho’s body at an apartment in Yellowknife on the evening of May 6.
Two days later, police charged Larabie with murder in connection to the case. On May 13, Nande and Brule were charged with being accessories after the fact to murder.
Being an accessory after the fact, under the criminal code, means an accused is aware that another person has committed a crime and they helped that person to escape the legal consequences.
Being an accessory to murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but sentence lengths have varied depending on the case.
While the Crown and defence have agreed on the facts of Brule and Nande’s case, Cabin Radio cannot yet legally publish details about what happened in the hours after Menacho was killed.
Information about Brule and Nande’s backgrounds, along with statements they and Menacho’s family made in court on Monday, are also protected by a temporary publication ban.
The Crown has applied for the facts of the case to be sealed until Larabie’s court proceedings have “run their course.”
The Crown argues publication of those facts could affect Larabie’s trial rights and the integrity of court proceedings. Larabie has yet to have a preliminary inquiry – a hearing where a judge reviews if there’s enough evidence to hold a trial – or enter a plea in his case.
The CBC has indicated it intends to challenge the proposed publication ban while Larabie’s lawyer plans to support it. Justice Shaner will decide whether the publication ban will be extended on the morning of December 9.
‘Substandard, inadequate, unreliable’ technology
Before Monday’s sentencing hearing began, court staff struggled with the audio connection for Brule’s video appearance from Fort Smith.
Justice Shaner lambasted the government for providing “substandard, inadequate and unreliable” technology, saying it had wasted 37 minutes of the court’s time.
“For some reason or other, the government does not see fit to provide us with adequate technology,” she said, adding the public, media, Nande and Brule, along with Menacho’s family, deserved to know the reason for the delay.
While people have long been able to participate in NWT court proceedings by telephone and video, the practice has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.