It will be at least another seven years before the man who received a lifetime sentence for killing a Penticton senior will be eligible for parole.
“This will result in Mr. (Corey) Swite being imprisoned even beyond the period of parole ineligibility until the parole board is satisfied he can be safely released into the community,” said Justice Ian Josephson during sentencing in Kelowna Supreme Court on Friday.
Swite, was 20-years-old at the time of his arrest, had been found guilty by a jury for first degree murder of Olive Hill in 2009. An appeal was put forward, and in June of this year the decision was overturned because of the possible bias of jurors. During his retrial this month, Swite pled guilty to the lesser offence of second degree murder.
It was in the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2006 that an intoxicated Swite entered the apartment building of the 85-year-old. He opened the sliding glass patio door that she had left open to permit her cat to enter and leave the apartment at will, and began searching for cigarettes and cash. During the search, Hill woke up and Swite pushed her to the bed, placed a pillow over her head and sat on her. The force caused her to die of asphyxiation after five minutes.
Swite continued to ransack the residence after her death and came across a condom that the senior had been given as a gag prize from a club she belongs to. He used it to sexually assault Hill’s body.
Swite, who was arrested in February of 2007, was sentenced to life and will not be eligible to apply for parole until February of 2020. According to Crown counsel, that application process takes a minimum of six months and more likely two years before the parole board would make their decision.
“I think it was the right result. The judge is a very experienced criminal law judge and he had some very difficult issues to have to resolve and I anticipated a sentence pretty close to the sentence he imposed,” said Bruneau, who had asked for a 15-year parole ineligibility.
Crown counsel said he has been in contact with the victim’s granddaughter in California during the appeal and re-trial. Bruneau said the family was having a difficult time with the process and they wrote “moving” victim impact statements that were read by Justice Josephson. The only thing that could be appealed by Swite now is the length of the parole and Bruneau said he would be “very surprised” if that was to happen.
“It was a horrendous attack, but in all of those circumstances including his Aboriginal heritage, I think 13 years is pretty much right on,” added Bruneau.
Swite had little in the way of formal education and had been raised by his grandparents, as his own parents were incapable of doing so because of substance abuse. His spiral into a perilous lifestyle continued when he had been victim to a violent stabbing and when his mother died in her early 30s due to substance abuse. Just over a year later, Swite witnessed at close hand the alcohol-induced shooting of three friends and relatives by his cousin, Dustin Paul, at a bush party on the Penticton Indian Reserve.
Defence counsel Kevin McCullough told the court Swite has gone through a “positive transition while incarcerated.” McCullough said his client is anxious to return to the roots of his First Nations culture and has re-bonded with his father, who was present throughout most of the court hearings.
Justice Josephson, who was the judge in the trial of the bombing of Air India Flight 182, said in his reasons for sentencing that he requests Swite be offered some culturally appropriate programs wile incarcerated and it is his hope he can continue on the path of sobriety.