The parents of a 19-year-old stabbed to death in the river valley found no comfort in the prison sentence handed to their son’s killer Friday.
Provincial court Judge Elizabeth Johnson handed Connor James Miller, 21, a seven-year prison sentence after he admitted to manslaughter in the 2016 death of Christopher Fawcett.
With credit for time served in pre-trial custody, Miller has six years and four months left to serve. Johnson also ordered Miller to submit a DNA sample to a federal database and be subject to a 10-year weapons prohibition. The sentence is a mid-point between the ranges argued by Crown prosecutor Marty Gillingwater and defence lawyer Rod Gregory at a hearing in November.
In the small courtroom where Johnson delivered her sentence, family and other friends of both Fawcett and Miller filled the benches. A few people stood along the wall at the back of the room.
“It was just senseless,” Fawcett’s mother, Wendy Fawcett, said after the sentencing decision.
“I don’t think justice will ever be served,” her husband, Mark Fawcett, added.
In a written statement, Fawcett’s family described him as the “glue that held us together.”
They remember Fawcett as an active, social young man who was always eager to help others.
“Chris was always smiling,” they wrote.
Fawcett had plans to go to the University of Alberta or NAIT.
“We will never know what he could have become, but we know he would have made a difference,” the family said. “Some people have said to us that time eases the pain, but it really doesn’t. We just learn to handle it differently.”
After initially being charged with second-degree murder, Miller pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Court heard that Fawcett, Miller and a third young man were in the North Saskatchewan River valley near the Arthur H. Savage Centre at 13909 Fox Dr. on the evening of Oct. 22, 2016.
According to Johnson’s written judgment, the third young man told police that after Miller and Fawcett used LSD, they got into a fight. Miller punched Fawcett in the head, and then pulled out a knife and stabbed him several times. When police arrived, Miller fled from several officers, and initially couldn’t even be subdued through use of a Taser.
During a mental health assessment, Miller described the altercation as a “play fight” and said he had no animosity toward Fawcett. Johnson wrote that although Miller takes responsibility for his actions and is remorseful, he has no specific recollection of the events.