Raine Silas, seen in this Facebook photo posted in June 2016, was killed on Nov. 4, 2016. At a hearing in Pelly Crossing on Oct. 2, Tristan Joe pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing Silas.(Facebook)

Man sentenced to 4.5 years for 2016 Pelly Crossing manslaughter

Tristan Joe, who killed Raine Silas, 18, will serve 20 months in jail after credit for time served

The Pelly Crossing man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing 18-year-old Raine Silas in 2016 by hitting him in the head with a two-by-four was sentenced to four and a half years in jail earlier this week.

Territorial court judge Peter Chisholm sentenced Tristan Joe, 32, at a hearing in Pelly Crossing on Oct. 2.

Joe, originally charged with second-degree murder in Silas’s death, pleaded guilty to manslaughter during his preliminary hearing in March.

As is standard practice, Joe will get credit for the time he’s already spent in custody, meaning he will serve another 20 months in jail before he’s released. Chisholm also sentenced him to three years’ probation.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Joe, then 30, and Silas got into a fight in Pelly Crossing the night of Nov. 3, 2016. During the fight, Joe picked up a two-by-four piece of lumber and struck Silas in the head. A family member brought Silas to a medical centre, where he received stitches, and then brought him to his grandparents’ house, where he went to sleep.

Family members checked on Silas throughout the night, but found him unresponsive the morning of Nov. 4, 2016. He was pronounced dead shortly after.

Joe was severely intoxicated that night and has no memory of what happened, the statement says.

At a sentencing hearing in August, the Crown had recommended that Joe receive six to eight years in jail while Joe’s defence lawyer, Jennifer Cunningham, said three and a half years of custody followed by three years of probation was appropriate.

In his sentencing reasonings, Chisholm said that, based on the more than 20 victim impact statements submitted during Joe’s sentencing hearing, it would be an understatement to describe Silas’s death as “devastating.”

“Mr. Silas was a young man whose potential will never be realized … there is no sentence that will lessen the loss that the family and friends of Raine Silas endure,” Chisholm said.

The judge also acknowledged Joe’s personal circumstances, noting that he is a survivor of the intergenerational trauma of residential schools, had a “chaotic, unstable, abusive and traumatic” childhood and fell into a lifestyle that “embraced” drugs and alcohol at an early age.

Chisholm said that Joe’s Gladue factors, along with his guilty plea, active participation in programming and therapy while in jail, genuine remorse for his crime and his circle of friends and family who support his desire to be rehabilitated were mitigating factors.

However, he also noted several aggravating factors, including Joe’s “history of violence,” such as a previous conviction of assault causing bodily harm, the fact that, at the time of the crime, he was on probation and was not supposed to be outside his home while intoxicated, and the fact that he, as a 30-year-old man, agreed to fight a teenager.

The use of a piece of lumber in the fight was dangerous and violent, Chisholm said, and while using it was “opportunistic and impulsive,” the gravity of the offense was serious.

Along with serving his remaining time in jail and his probation, the conditions of which include keeping the peace, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and completing 100 hours of community service, Joe will also be subject to a DNA order and 10-year firearm ban.

Chisholm also approved a no-contact order that originally contained about 40 names, but, upon request by Cunningham, was reduced to just the people that had provided victim impact statements in August.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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