April Baker holds a photo of her son who was killed in 2016, Raine Silas, outside of the Link building in Pelly Crossing on Aug. 22. In response to the sentencing of her sons killer on Oct. 2, Baker says the justice system has failed her family and the community. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)

Mother of slain Pelly Crossing teen says killer’s sentence “a slap in the face”

April Baker, mother of 18-year-old Raine Silas, says the justice system failed her son

The mother of Pelly Crossing teen Raine Silas, who died in 2016 after another man struck him in the head with a two-by-four, says the sentence her son’s killer received earlier this month felt like “a big slap in the face.”

Silas died in November 2016 hours after getting into a fight with Tristan Joe, now 32. Joe was originally charged with second-degree murder in relation to Silas’s death, but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

In Pelly Crossing Oct. 2, territorial court judge Peter Chisholm sentenced Joe to four and a half years in jail followed by three years’ probation. As is standard practice, Chisholm gave Joe credit for the time he’s already spent in custody, meaning he will serve another 20 months in jail before he’s released.

In a written statement provided to the News Oct. 10, Silas’s mother, April Baker, said she was shocked by the outcome.

“The justice system failed my son, my family and our community. In my opinion, our justice system in the Yukon and in Canada is weak when it comes to dealing with Indigenous People,” she wrote in the statement, dated Oct. 2.

At several points throughout the statement, Baker wrote that she thinks that Joe is guilty of a more serious crime and is critical of several aspects of the justice system, including Gladue reports, which explore the unique personal circumstances of Indigenous offenders.

She also disputed several points in the case’s agreed statement of facts, writing that Joe and Silas were not friends and that Joe had “jumped” Silas in retaliation for a fight they had the night before.

“What happened to my son on (the night of Nov. 3, 2016) is nobody else’s fault, but Tristan’s alone,” Baker wrote. “I love Tristan’s family, but I do not love Tristan and I do not forgive him… My son was only 18 years old and he was a better man than Tristan could ever be at 30!”

“I don’t understand what the judge and lawyers saw in Tristan, but I saw no remorse, just a desperate man trying to get away with his horrible actions causing death and tragedy in his community…and he did tear apart families, friends and our community!” the statement concludes. “…The whole Yukon Territory is appalled and even angry at the abysmal sentence Tristan received… My family felt a big slap in the face, a total let down.”

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

Just Posted

Craft brewers, distillers get a boost from the Yukon Liquor Corporation

Beer and spirits made by small producers to be charged by volume, regardless of bottle price

Environment Yukon releases report with 35 years of hunting data

The report has data on moose, caribou, thinhorn sheep, wood bison, and black and grizzly bears

Review of Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board announced after the Yukon Forum

A new committee with deputy ministers and First Nations executive directors was also announced

Yukon Yuletide: Light up an animal’s life

Raven Recycling is donating proceeds from old lights to the humane society

Yukon Yuletide: Santa Claus to make early gift drop in Watson Lake

Santa will be stopping by the community today in a DHC-2 Beaver

Yukon Yuletide: Learning to make lefse

The Christmas tradition of the Norwegian potato pancake

Yukon Yuletide: You can buy beer to help families celebrate Christmas this year

Some sales of a new Winterlong draft will be given to Share the Spirit campaign

Yukon Yuletide: How to find the perfect Christmas tree

Every Yukon household is entitled to harvest two Christmas trees every year

Commentary: Know your rights: Changes to Canada’s criminal driving laws are coming

Bill C-46 is bringing with it some new laws starting Dec. 18

Rivermen end 2018 with four-game road trip

“It’s a bit of an old-school travel swing; three different nights, three different hotels.”

Santa makes an appearance on Main Street

This weekend was Whitehorse’s Santa Claus Parade

History Hunter: The misfortune of ‘Hard Luck’ Harper

The story of “The Father of the Yukon,” Arthur Harper

Most Read