Vernon law courts. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)

10 years for Vernon woman’s role in ‘extremely brutal’ murder

Jaqueline Leavins was sentenced for manslaughter in relation to the murder of William Bartz in 2017

A woman has been handed a 10-year sentence for the role she played in the murder of William Frederick Bartz in his Vernon apartment in July 2017, after she intentionally goaded her boyfriend into carrying out what she knew would be a serious assault.

But as heard by those present at the Vernon Supreme Court sentence hearing Friday (March 19), Jacqueline Nicole Leavins played no physical part in executing the murder.

After inciting her boyfriend to violence by negatively comparing his sexual prowess to the victim’s, she followed her boyfriend to Bartz’s apartment where the “extremely brutal killing” took place, in the words of Crown prosecutor Laura McPheeters.

In the statement of agreed facts, the court heard Leavins had arrived at the apartment to find her boyfriend hitting Bartz with a hammer repeatedly.

She went into another room while the murder was carried out in full, and sat in the apartment alone for some time before leaving the scene. Bartz’s body was discovered by a friend the next day.

Leavins, born in 1978, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in August 2020 in relation to Bartz’s murder.

Arrested alongside her then-boyfriend and co-accused on Oct. 12, 2018, on a second-degree murder charge, Leavins’ time already spent in custody leaves her with six years and four months of additional jail time.

Defence and Crown counsel presented Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames with a joint submission Friday.

Beames agreed with the 10-year sentence, which falls at the high end of sentencing for manslaughter, given the offence was “much closer to murder than it was to an accident.”

The name of Leavins’ boyfriend — the co-accused in the case — is protected by a publication ban to preserve his right to a fair trial in the future, after he was found unfit to stand trial in January 2020.

Leavins’ guilty plea came seven months after her the co-accused’s remand was announced.

READ MORE: Not guilty plea entered in Vernon murder trial

READ MORE: Crime down in Vernon, domestic violence on the rise: RCMP report


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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