By Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week
The family of a man who shot and killed a romantic rival in a Salmon Arm schoolyard nearly nine years ago cried and hugged each other in a Kamloops courtroom on Wednesday after a B.C. Supreme Court judge decided not to hand the man a life sentence.
Now 25, the killer was 16 years old when he murdered 22-year-old Tyler Myers on Nov. 21, 2008. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan decided to sentence him as a youth, despite an application from prosecutors seeking an adult life sentence.
The killer has been in custody since his arrest in November 2012. He will serve six new years in a provincial prison before being released to serve four years under supervision in the community.
If he had been sentenced as an adult, he would have likely spent about the same amount of time behind bars, but would have been bound by parole conditions for the rest of his life.
Donegan ruled the killer, whose name is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, had been manipulated by his then-girlfriend, 17-year-old Monica Sikorski. Myers and the killer were both involved romantically with Sikorski, who was sentenced to life in prison last year after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Donegan described Sikorski as the manipulative catalyst behind Myers’ murder. She described the killer as a socially immature and emotionally vulnerable teenager who gave little thought to the consequence of his actions.
“I think the judge made the right decision,” said the killer’s mother, who cannot be named to protect her son’s identity. “He was held responsible for what happened… . He is a good person who made a huge mistake. It doesn’t make him a bad person.”
Sikorski and the killer hatched a plan to lure Myers to the schoolyard of Bastion elementary in Salmon Arm with the intent of scaring him, court heard. The killer borrowed a rifle from a friend and hid in a stand of trees while Sikorski left Myers in a pre-determined location.
The killer’s first shot struck Myers. He emerged from the wooded are and delivered two additional shots, including one to the back of Myers’ head at Sikorski’s urging.
After the murder, Sikorski began dating Myers’ best friend and her relationship with the killer dissolved.
Sikorski and the killer were interviewed by police in the days after the murder, but denied any involvement. They were only arrested after police launched an undercover Mr. Big sting in 2012.
The killer’s parents were present for each appearance he made in B.C. Supreme Court, from trivial pre-trial hearings to his jury trial last June.
Donegan cited that support in handing down her sentence, saying the killer, who had no prior criminal record and has been described as “a model prisoner,” is a low risk to re-offend and has high prospects upon his release from custody.
“To say [the killer] is an offender with tremendous family support is an understatement,” the judge said, also noting the seriousness of the crime.
“The crime was callous, especially when [the killer] followed the urging of Ms. Sikorski to shoot the prone Mr. Myers in the head … I am convinced [the killer] is in the place he is today because his life intersected with that of Ms. Sikorski.”
Also in court for nearly all of the proceedings against the killer and Sikorski was Myers’ mother, Barbara. After the sentence was handed down, she told KTW she is relieved it is over and happy with the outcome.
“I am really satisfied,” she said. “I’m glad the judge sentenced him as a young offender … Like the judge said, she believes he’s repentant. I believe he’s repentant — and now there’s hope. He has a ray of hope to prove to society that he can become a better person.”
Court heard the killer has been taking university courses in prison. He plans to have a degree by the time he is released and hopes to work in construction.
In addition to prison time, the killer must surrender a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database and will be bound by a lifetime firearms prohibition.
Sikorski is expected to become eligible for parole in 2023.