Duo sentenced on third anniversary of teens death

It took exactly three years to finish the case against those who killed 16-year-old Ashton VanEvery in what a judge called a “total disregard” for the rule of law.Irvin Allen Maracle, now 59, and his son, Dwight Ronald Walton, now 22, have been in custody since the day they were part of a shooting melee that killed VanEvery and injured two others on June 1, 2016.Friday, Justice Harrison Arrell sentenced Maracle to 12 years in prison and Walton to 10 years for manslaughter – both minus the three years they’ve already served, which is calculated to be worth four-and-a-half years.“The facts of the case are particularly disturbing,” said Arrell.“(They) were extracting vigilante justice and it won’t be tolerated by the Six Nations community or this court.”Arrell said the incident left the close-knit community of Six Nations anxious and fearing for their safety.He recounted the situation – a tale of escalation – which began with a debt of $40 for marijuana sold by Walton to a young woman. When the money wasn’t paid, Walton went to a home and removed $40 from the wallet of the girl’s boyfriend.The boyfriend then went to Walton’s home he shared with his father, Maracle, and smashed windows there.Walton and Maracle went to find the perpetrator and ended up beating another man, sending him to hospital.That led to Ashton VanEvery, his older brother and a 22-year-old friend, driving to Walton and Maracle’s Chiefswood home to confront them, armed with baseball bats.But the father and son were waiting, and they were armed with a rifle and shotgun.“Ashton VanEvery was only 16 when he was violently killed, shot in the back of the head as he clearly was trying to escape,” said Arrell.“Both offenders only stopped shooting when they ran out of ammunition.”One of the other men was shot in the stomach and airlifted to hospital. Faron VanEvery was treated at the scene for injuries.Walton and Maracle drove around for several hours and then turned themselves in to police in the evening. They were originally charged with first-degree murder.The judge said he accepted that both father and son have had difficult lives, spared the community a long and exhausting trial and expressed their remorse to both the court and the family of the victims.Walton had no criminal record and is well thought-of by family. He completed counselling programs while in custody. A psychiatric report found he has long-standing mental health issues, including an anti-social personality disorder.Maracle has had serious health issues since 2015 and, after a stroke and surgery while in custody, his cardiologist said he has a 50 per cent chance of surviving for 15 years.Maracle also has a record. Years ago, he was jailed for 15 months after forcibly confining a woman he was dating.In a Gladue report that recounted Maracle’s life, the judge learned Maracle may have fathered up to 12 children but has no contact with any of them but Walton.His own father was in the residential school system, alcoholic and physically abusive.Arrell noted that the Gladue considerations played a part in his sentencing decisions but said as crimes become more serious or violent, the likelihood increases that Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders will get the same sentence.Assistant Crown attorney Ed Slater asked the judge to consider a sentence of 14 years for both Walton and Maracle and another year to be tacked on for a charge of assault causing bodily harm.But the defence lawyers suggested nine years for Walton and 10 for his father with the other offences to be served concurrently.While no Superior Court case is supposed to last more than 30 months under new legislation, this case ran a full 36 months due to numerous delays.There was an MRI for Walton, then 21, to see if he has fetal alcohol syndrome disorder; Maracle’s heart attack and triple-bypass surgery; and dates that couldn’t be accommodated by the three lawyers involved.The defence lawyers agreed Walton and Maracle would assume the responsibility for much of the delay, ensuring the case could not be thrown out for going overtime.Arrell decided on 10 years for the younger man with a five-year concurrent sentence on his plea of discharging a weapon, and another one-year concurrent sentence on assault causing bodily harm for the beating of the hospitalized teen.Arrell placed more of the blame on Maracle, even though the investigation showed it was the .22 rifle fired by Walton that actually killed VanEvery, saying the older man was the instigator of the events.“It was Mr. Maracle who was belittling Mr. Walton for not standing up for his rights,” said Arrell. “He stayed up the night before, waiting outside, with a gun hidden in the grass. There was never any thought of calling police.“He was the father and there was some planning involved. His moral blameworthiness was higher.”Both men received an order to provide a sample of their DNA and a weapons prohibition for life.SGamble@postmedia.com@EXPSGamble