A brother of Wilfred “Dickie” Charlie, the Carmacks man killed by Mario and Tyler Skookum in 2017, says he wants to see a review of the Yukon justice system after his family’s experience.
Lennie Charlie, in an interview Sept. 15, told the News that he was “very disappointed” with the outcome of his brother’s case and believes that the Skookum cousins only got a “slap on the wrist.”
Dickie, 57, died on June 19, 2017, after Mario and Tyler went to his house in the early hours that day in search of more alcohol.
When Dickie didn’t give them any, they decided to take it by force; according to an agreed statement of facts filed in court, Mario held him down while Tyler searched his house.
At one point, Tyler emerged from the kitchen with a knife and began stabbing Dickie. Mario got off of him and Dickie managed to run out of the house before collapsing.
The cousins then moved him to the Yukon River and Tyler pushed Dickie into the water, unsure if he was still alive.
His body was found near Fort Selkirk July 5, 2017.
Police charged Mario and Tyler with first-degree murder, but both later pleaded guilty to manslaughter; they were sentenced earlier this month, with Tyler receiving a nine-year sentence and Mario, three and a half years.
With credit for time already spent in jail, Tyler will be serving another five years, while Mario will be serving five more months.
Lennie said he thought those sentences weren’t adequate.
He recalled being the one to call the police to do a wellness check on Dickie back in June 2017 after hearing something had happened at his house and seeing the bloodstains on his brother’s porch.
He also recalled tracking blood and footprints from Dickie’s house down to the river and spending almost every day of the next two weeks on the water, searching.
“The public, in general, doesn’t realize how actually violent and brutal this whole thing was, because my brother suffered for some time, from when he was stabbed in his house to when he ended up in the river,” Lennie said.
While he didn’t expect Tyler or Mario to get convicted of first-degree murder, he said he had expected they would get at least second-degree murder — not manslaughter.
Lennie said he’s also concerned and unhappy about the fact that the cousins will be able to come back to Carmacks, after notifying the RCMP, while on probation.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with them continuing life somewhere else. I don’t think they should come into their victims, back into the victims’ (community),” he said.
“How is that fair for us? I’m just saying, we have one store, two gas stations, one First Nation office that we all go to … It’s not a good place to be in.”
Lennie said he and his family would like to see a review of the Yukon justice system, one where Yukon First Nations are heavily involved and their traditional values and beliefs are taken into account.
“I know I can’t change what happened to us but at least we can better the Yukon,” he said. “I’ve been living here all my life … My dad lived here, my dad’s dad lived here, my dad’s dad’s dad lived here, I’ve been here as long as my generations can think back, so we have a connection to our land and our people and our rules were a lot more strict than the rules now.”
“The whole thing is heartbreaking,” he added. “It feels like (the justice system) failed us, the Charlie family.”
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com