Teen suspect found guilty of manslaughter
Published Sunday, November 18, 2012 2:58PM PST
Last Updated Sunday, November 18, 2012 6:34PM PST
A young woman accused of killing a 16-year-old girl during a fight at a house party in British Columbia's Okanagan two years ago was convicted of manslaughter Sunday, as a jury decided against convicting her of the more serious charge of second-degree murder.
The 18-year-old accused, who can't be named because she was a youth at the time of the killing, was accused of fatally stabbing Ashlee Hyatt at a house party in Peachland, near Kelowna, in June 2010.
The six men and six women on the jury returned with their verdict Sunday afternoon, convicting the woman of manslaughter. The jury found her not guilty of second-degree murder. They also acquitted her of assault in connection with another stabbing that happened after Hyatt was stabbed.
The Crown has requested a psychiatric assessment to determine whether the accused should be sentenced as a youth or an adult. A hearing is scheduled on Dec. 3 to set a date for sentencing.
The trial heard about 20 teens were at a house on Peachland after several teens, including the accused, finished a night of four-by-fouring and drinking. At some point, Hyatt and the party's hostess accused the young suspect of cheating on her boyfriend, the trial heard.
That eventually escalated into a fight outside, during which Hyatt was stabbed in the neck.
The accused testified in her own defence, suggesting another teen held the knife during the fight, not her. Her lawyer described Hyatt's death as an accident.
But the trial heard from witnesses who testified the only person holding the knife was the accused.
The accused was initially charged with first-degree murder, but that was later reduced to second-degree murder, before the jury finally settled on manslaughter.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter under the Youth Criminal Justice Act is three years.
If the accused is sentenced as an adult, the maximum jumps to life in prison, though maximum sentences are rarely imposed. An adult sentence would also mean the accused could be publicly identified.