Ed. Note: The following story contains details of intimate partner violence. Rapid access counselling is available to all Yukoners at 867-456-3838.
The man who plead guilty to beating two women to death in a Whitehorse home in 2017 was sentenced to 18 years — nine for each killing — and a host of other court-imposed conditions on Aug. 18.
Everett Mark Chief, a 48-year-old man from the Watson Lake area, has already been behind bars for more than five years waiting to answer for the deaths of Sarah MacIntosh and Wendy Carlick. The women were found dead in MacIntosh’s home in the McIntyre subdivision in April 2017.
Chief was already in custody on other criminal matters when he was charged with first degree and second degree murder in May 2018 for the killings at the McIntyre home.
Pre-trial proceedings took a long time because the court had to answer the question of Chief’s mental fitness to stand trial. In October 2021, a jury found Chief fit for trial.
Before that trial could begin, Chief entered guilty pleas to the lesser charge of manslaughter for both deaths in March 2022. An agreed statement of facts detailing the killings and events after them was filed alongside the guilty plea.
The Crown and defence lawyers brought a joint submission to the sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court of Yukon, presided over by Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan on Aug. 17 and 18. They agreed Chief would face 18 years in prison, a long-term offender designation and 10 years of additional close supervision by the justice system prior to the end of his sentence.
Presented at the hearing alongside the recommended sentence were reports on Chief’s traumatic childhood and the impacts of the residential school system on his life, as well as the impact of the two womens’ deaths on their community.
The court heard Chief grew up in a deeply dysfunctional household where he suffered a range of neglect and abuse. The neglect and abuse continued through his time in the foster care system and as a student at a residential school in Whitehorse. His past has manifested itself in antisocial personality disorder, a lack of stable employment and chronic substance abuse.
A community impact statement written on behalf of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation was read to the court by Council of Yukon First Nations representative Chantal Genier. MacIntosh was a Kwanlin Dün First Nation citizen and Carlick was from the Kaska Dena Nation, but the report said both were a part of the Kwanlin Dün community living in Whitehorse.
Genier said one of Carlick and MacIntosh’s roles in the community was as an ‘informal street patrol’ looking out for vulnerable young people who knew they could turn to the older women for safety in times of trouble.
The women’s deaths led to a lost feeling of safety across the community, increased substance use and suicide attempts and long-lasting emotional impacts.
Speaking to the community’s concern in the 13 months between when MacIntosh and Carlick were killed and when Chief was charged, Crown counsel Noel Sinclair said the RCMP put a lot of resources into the investigation. He said police knew Chief was their primary suspect early on and the risk he posed to the community was managed because he was already in jail on another matter.
Before the conclusion of the Aug. 17 court date, Chief was given a chance to speak. In a low voice he said he apologizes to Carlick and MacIntosh’s families and hopes for healing and to live a better life in the future.
The following day, the court’s gallery was noticeably fuller as Duncan prepared to deliver Chief’s sentence and her reasons for it.
Firstly, there was a late victim impact statement read by Carlick’s niece Melissa. She described good times spent among family in Good Hope Lake, British Columbia, and how she can still hear her auntie’s laugh.
“She had a lot to live for, but she couldn’t keep living this life with us,” she said.
Melissa Carlick called the justice system flawed and said the price Chief will pay for the killings is not just.
With everything presented, Duncan gave her reasons for sentencing. The judge noted the maximum sentence for manslaughter is life in prison, but the range of possible sentences is broad, just as manslaughters can range from near accidents to near murders.
Duncan detailed aggravating factors including the brutality of the beating Chief inflicted on the women, leaving serious injuries across their whole bodies as they were heavily intoxicated and less able to defend themselves. The judge added MacIntosh was Chief’s ex-partner and he was bound by an order not to contact her that arose from his conviction for assaulting her in the past. Chief was a friend and distant relative of Carlick’s — the judge also considered this an aggravating factor. The court heard about Chief’s criminal record: 58 past convictions, 12 of them violent and with some of that past violence visited on intimate partners.
Mitigating factors included Chief’s guilty plea, remorseful statements and traumatic past.
Duncan accepted the joint submission on sentencing, reading out the sentence of nine years behind bars for each of the killings to be served consecutively for a total of 18 years.
As the judge read out the prison term people in the gallery began to speak up and leave their seats.
“That’s it?” said one man.
“It should have been more,” said another.
When the gallery had mostly cleared, a woman approached the bar and said “Everett, you rot in hell,” before she was shown out by the sheriff.
Chief received credit for 2,883 days behind bars pre-trial leaving more than 10 years remaining on his sentence. Duncan also approved the long-term offender designation and 10-year monitoring order proposed by the lawyers as well as a lifetime firearms prohibition.
Chief, who had sat silently facing the judge throughout the Aug. 18 session, shook hands with his lawyer David Tarnow before he was taken away by the corrections officer.
– With files from Jackie Hong and Ashley Joannou
Contact Jim Elliot at email@example.com