Relatives of Christopher Brisson gave victim impact statements in court March 26 on the first day of his killer’s sentencing hearing, speaking of a generous brother, son and father who was starting to get his life together when it was abruptly cut short by Darryl Sheepway.
Brisson, 25, was killed on a remote Whitehorse road in August 2015 during a drug deal gone bad. Sheepway was found guilty of second-degree murder earlier this year in Brisson’s death.
“I’d like to begin by telling you who my brother really was. He was not the drug dealer you have managed to label him as,” Brisson’s sister, Stephanie Eastaugh, told the court.
“Chris was an overly-caring and generous person. He was extremely funny. He made choices in life, some that were not so wise. He had reasons as to why he made those choices. He did not need excuses. He did his due diligence. He was fair and would have never had the intention of deceiving or hurting anybody.”
At the time of his death, Brisson was learning to read, working towards getting his GED and slowly preparing to take over their father’s renovation business, Eastaugh said. She said that she will never forget getting a call at 1 a.m. from her father, who told her that Brisson’s body had been found in a ravine and that his death was being treated as suspicious.
“That phone call consumed me and turned my life upside down,” she said, calling August 2015 until Sheepway’s arrest in August 2016 the “worst year of my life.” Eastaugh said she developed depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after learning of her brother’s death, imaging the worst that could have happened to him. Her relationship with her children suffered as a result, and she was unable to work due to her distress.
“No one should have to experience this pain,” she said. “God decides when it’s your time to go, not another human being.… A son will forever miss his father because you chose in that moment that his life was of less value than the drugs that you so desperately wanted.”
Brisson’s parents, Donna Calloway and Rock Brisson, also wrote victim impact statements that were read to the court by Victim Services workers.
In her statement, Calloway said Brisson was her fifth child, and as a boy, lived at the ski hill in the winter while spending his summers mowing lawns to save money for a new snowboard. He “adored” his three sisters, she said, and would always walk hand-in-hand with one of them when they were at school.
Since Brisson’s death, Calloway said she’s become socially isolated, with her relationships with her husband and friends suffering as a result.
“The trial has kept my loss of my son constantly on my mind and all I can do is think of Christopher,” her statement said. “…The majority of my time is spent sitting and thinking about the loss of Christopher and crying.”
Brisson’s murder also compounded the loss of another one of her sons, Calloway added, who died in a house fire in 1984.
“Losing Christopher has been heartbreaking,” she said. “The impact on our families will stick with us forever. We will never hug him again, never talk to him on the phone, never see his smile or hold him in our arms. Christopher was such a kind and loving guy. We miss you so much.”
In his statement, Rock said the news of his son’s death — and then, for a year, not knowing who was responsible for it — caused his already frail health to deteriorate even further. He started drinking heavily to cope with the loss, he said, and his business, where Brisson was a foreman, suffered too. Two years on, Rock said, he’s suffered through three bouts of pneumonia and also battles with the effects of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he hasn’t been able to return to work full-time, either, and in one three-month period, lost about $20,000 worth of business.
“I went through sadness, emotional pain, inability to show or experience joy, guilty, irritability, fear, lack of motivation, etc…. Not knowing how my son died and not being allowed to see his body was devastating to me,” he said. “I could not stop imagining what happened to him and always thinking the worst. I could not start my grieving process.”
Brisson’s son, Rock added, was six years old at the time of his father’s death. Even though he lived in British Columbia, Rock said Brisson was always in contact with him over the phone.
“Someday, he’ll ask how his dad died,” Rock said, “and we’ll have to be devastated all again.”
Sheepway’s sentencing hearing is expected to continue April 20. Justice Leigh Gower, who oversaw the trial and now the sentencing, said he expects to have a decision no later than June 1.
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com