Chad Tyler Beck will be eligible for parole after serving 11 years in prison for killing Cameron Sayine, 27, with an axe in Fort Resolution in the summer of 2018.
The 33-year-old was convicted of second-degree murder in May for the offence. In Canada, the charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, with eligibility for parole between 10 and 25 years into that sentence.
During a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Beck’s lawyer argued he deserved to be considered for parole after the minimum 10 years, while the prosecution argued 13 years would be more appropriate.
In NWT Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon, Justice Shannon Smallwood found that Beck’s crime warranted a greater than 10-year sentence but declined to impose a sentence of 13 years before he is eligible for parole.
Smallwood considered factors like Beck’s character and personal circumstances, particularly as an Indigenous offender, along with his moral culpability and the circumstances surrounding Sayine’s murder.
According to Beck’s family, his actions on the day of the murder were shocking and out of character for him. Smallwood noted Beck has expressed remorse for the murder, saying he wished it never happened, and he cooperated with police after he was arrested.
The judge said Beck is taking steps to complete his GED while incarcerated, with his instructor describing him as a “star pupil” who is caring and helpful toward other inmates, but is shy and struggles with self-confidence.
Smallwood noted Beck was intoxicated and had been assaulted by Sayine on the day of the murder, but said his “impulsive actions” were “extreme and horrific” and had “devastating consequences.”
She referred to victim impact statements from Sayine’s sister, father, and grandfather that described deep loss and suffering alongside division caused by the crime in Fort Resolution.
“Mr Sayine was more than just the last moments of his life. He was more than just the drunken aggressor he was made out to be,” Smallwood said.
“No sentence or words can make up for the loss … The court cannot undue the harm that was done.”
Beck’s sentence does not necessarily mean he will be released after serving 11 years in prison. Exactly when he will be granted parole is up to the Parole Board of Canada, which considers factors like public safety.
Along with a prison sentence, under the law, Beck is required to provide a DNA sample to a national databank and will be prohibited from possessing a firearm until 10 years have passed after his release from prison.