Editor’s note: The following story contains details that readers may find distressing.
Following guilty pleas earlier this year, the Silverfox sisters, 31-year-old Charabelle and 24-year-old Lynzee, were sentenced for their roles in the 2017 death of Derek Edwards. The sentencing hearing was held in Pelly Crossing on June 20.
Both sisters were initially charged with first-degree murder, forcible confinement and interference with or indignity to a dead body. On March 28, just before trial was set to begin, both sisters entered guilty pleas to lesser offences. Charabelle plead guilty to second-degree murder and Lynzee plead guilty to the interference with a body charge. The court stayed all of the other charges for each.
Presented alongside the guilty pleas was an agreed statement of facts detailing Edwards’ death in the early morning hours of Dec. 13, 2017. The agreed facts state that after a day of heavy drinking ending at Charabelle’s house in Pelly Crossing, Edwards was attacked by Charabelle and another man who was present, Vance Cardinal. It states the attack followed Edwards trying to remove Charabelle’s pants when she was asleep. Court documents detail Charabelle’s responsibility for Edwards’ injuries including numerous stab and point blank arrow wounds.
The agreed statement of facts says that Lynzee punched Edwards after he was seriously injured and not moving. She also mopped up blood and helped Charabelle move his body onto a tarp.
The second-degree murder charge that Charabelle plead guilty to carries a life sentence. All that was up for the court to decide was the length of time she would serve before she was eligible to apply for parole. Following a joint submission on sentencing from Crown and defence lawyers, Justice Edith Campbell ruled that Charabelle would have to serve ten years before she became eligible for parole. With time already served deducted, her first chance at parole could be in about seven years. She will also be subject to a 20-year firearms prohibition upon release.
The reading of the sentence lead to loud cheers from the gallery which led Campbell to stand and admonish the crowd. She said despite what they are feeling, their reaction was totally inappropriate and respect in the courtroom must be maintained.
The judge’s decision on sentencing was preceded by statements from lawyers on the aggravating and mitigating circumstances surrounding Charabelle’s actions. Crown Counsel Leo Lane filed Charabelle’s criminal record, which included past assault convictions, with the court to inform sentencing.
He also noted that victim and community impact statements filed show the darkness that Edwards’ death has brought to the community and that Charabelle must be held accountable for it by being separated from society. He said ensuring Charabelle works on rehabilitation is another goal of the ten-year parole ineligibility.
Lane added that Charabelle’s traumatic personal history and guilty plea served as mitigating factors in arriving at the joint sentencing submission he agreed to with her lawyer, Jennie Cunningham.
Cunningham detailed her client’s remorse, evidenced by apologies she made to Edwards’ family shortly after his death and her guilty plea. She also spoke of Charabelle’s progress thanks to professional help received at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) — she said her client doesn’t want to be violent ever again.
Cunningham added that Charabelle has three children, including one born while she was in custody at WCC.
Charabelle did not take her opportunity to address the court.
The judge also approved the joint sentencing submissions from Crown and defence lawyers for Lynzee Silverfox’s indignity to a body charge. The younger of the two sisters was sentenced to 30 months in jail followed by three years probation. She will serve a further 24 days after sentencing with pretrial custody taken into account.
“Your honour, in the Crown’s submission, this was a despicable and cowardly act which has compounded the suffering and grief for all those who cared about Derek Edwards,” Lane said in the Crown’s submission on sentencing.
Lane added that Lynzee’s prior criminal record as well as the manslaugher she was convicted of which took place after Edwards’ death must be considered in a fitting sentence. He said Lynzee’s efforts to clean up the crime scene should also be seen as an aggravating factor.
He acknowledged that Lynzee’s guilty plea and efforts towards rehabilitation while in custody as mitigating factors.
Lynzee’s lawyer Jennifer Budgell expanded on the mitigating factors to be considered in the sentence including the childhood trauma similar to her older sister and her focus on further rehabilitation going forward. As her client remains very young, Budgell said her prospects for rehabilitation are strong.
“I sat in my cell every day thinking how can I hurt the people that I knew my whole entire life? And I’m truly sorry for my mistakes, I’m sorry to my community and I’ll do everything I can. I’ll try to work on myself as best I can,” Lynzee said when given an opportunity to address the court.
“I’m just sorry,” she said tearfully.
Statements read at the sentencing hearing for the Silverfoxes detail the hurt Edwards’ murder caused for the community. Victim impact statements, mostly from members of Edwards’ family, were read along with a report detailing the impacts on the Pelly Crossing and Selkirk First Nation community as a whole.
The statements also describe what Edwards’ family members have lost with him gone. More than one of the victim impact statements describe him as happy-go-lucky and loving to his friends and family, especially elders and his young nieces and nephews. He was also known as a hard worker who was eager to help people.
Also described is the shock and fear Edwards’ killing caused for the community and the divisions it has created. Some of those who wrote victim impact statements said they are related to both Edwards and the Silverfox sisters.
“It really hurts me, and I hope they will never come back to Pelly. They really broke my heart,” One of the statements reads.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org