CanadaChelsie Probert's father describes heartache at sentencing of daughter's killer
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Chelsie Probert's father struggled to maintain his composure as he told a provincial youth court sentencing hearing Tuesday in Halifax what his daughter's death has meant to him and his family.
"Writing this has got to be the second-toughest thing I've ever had to do in my life," Jason Probert told court through sobs. "The first was burying my first-born."
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Jason Probert was the first of 14 people to submit victim-impact statements at the sentencing of the 17-year-old convicted in Chelsie Probert's death.
She was stabbed to death on a path in north-end Dartmouth in June 2017.
The boy, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was initially charged with second-degree murder.
But in convicting him of manslaughter, Judge Elizabeth Buckle said she was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the teen was the one who stabbed Probert.
Rory Taylor, 20, was with the teen that night. The pair had been trying to rob people walking along that path and Probert was the third intended victim.
Both the teen and Taylor testified at the trial. Each blamed the other for the fatal stabbing.
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While she said she wasn't satisfied the teen had done the stabbing, Buckle said she was satisfied that he was present at the time the fatal injury was inflicted and that was sufficient for the manslaughter conviction.
'She was a human being'
"She was not just another statistic," Jason Probert said of his daughter. "She was a human being with thoughts and dreams."
Several of those who wrote statements talked about how Probert's death still makes them feel unsafe and how they fear for the safety of young women in the city.
"That someone could kill you just because you're a young woman," Carol Ann Cook, Probert's great-aunt, said in her statement.
Family members, friends and even former teachers described how her death has created a hole in their lives that will never be filled. They say they will never get to see her achieve milestones like getting married or having children.
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Trouble sleeping, working
Jason Probert says even now, nearly two years after his daughter's death, he has difficulty sleeping or working.
"I am stuck here in this lonely abyss until the chains are taken off me," he said.
Probert's mother, Katrina Marriott, had a victim services worker read her statement to the court.
"My heart aches to hold my daughter," her statement read in part. "I'll never get that chance again."
The teen sat beside his lawyers as the statements were read into the record, staring at the table in front of him.
Both Crown and defence are recommending a three-year sentence under the federal Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision program.
If approved, the teen would face strict supervision and intensive counselling to work on the behavioural issues that led him to set out that night to rob and assault people.
The Crown is arguing his sentence should start with at least a year in the Waterville Youth Detention Centre.
The defence argues his needs could be better met by keeping him in Halifax, close to family and other supports. That suggestion was met by muttering by members of Probert's family who were in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing.
He has been on house arrest while his case made its way through the courts. He has an electronic monitoring bracelet attached to his ankle.
At one point, the teen cut off the bracelet and fled for a couple of days before surrendering to authorities.
The Crown cited that episode to support its position for a period in youth jail. Buckle is expected to reserve her decision.
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