Woman convicted of drunk driving death in 2018

Shayla Keepness was sentenced on Friday for a 2018 impaired driving incident that left one person dead.

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Shayla Keepness has been sentenced to 33 months in prison for her one night actions she cannot remember, causing a death she says will eat away at her heart forever.

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That sentence was handed down on Friday by Queen’s Bench Judge David Gerecke, who in February found Keepness, 22, guilty of two counts related to driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, causing an accident on June 19, 2018 that resulted in the death of Michael Creeley and bodily harm to Paige McKay.

For the harm done to McKay, the judge sentenced Keepness to 18 months, to be served concurrently.

As stated in the indictment, the crimes were committed “in or near Standing Buffalo First Nation”.

The judge detailed how an accident occurred after Keepness, who he said grew up between Muscowpetung First Nation and Fort Qu’Appelle, got behind the wheel of a vehicle with the others as passengers, en route to a place to “keep on doing drugs”. .”

No victim impact statements were submitted by the victims’ family members. However, Crown prosecutor Ryan Snyder said Creeley’s mother could not attend due to a medical condition.

“Really, she’s asking you to do justice this morning,” he told the judge.

An online obituary for Creeley states that he was “unexpectedly called home by the Creator at the age of 22”.

Keepness stood to address the court when given the opportunity.

With her hands shaking and a voice that threatened to crack as she faltered, she apologized to Creeley, her family and friends.

She said she suffered from guilt and shame for her inability to remember what had happened at the time of the incident, which changed her outlook on life and the dangers of alcohol.

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“I feel terrible and devastated that the accident happened and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I know you will never forgive me, but I hope and pray every day for redemption.

Before the judge handed down the sentence, submissions from the Crown and defense raised questions about how the Gladue factors should be applied in the judge’s decision.

A Supreme Court of Canada decision established that the courts have a responsibility to consider an Indigenous person’s background, including factors such as poverty, racism, addictions and the impact of residential schools and colonialism, when sentencing an offender.

Defense lawyer Bruce Campbell told the court that the three-year sentence sought by the Crown did not properly reflect this, noting that his client was introduced to drugs and alcohol at an early age, had experienced domestic violence and had faced suicidal ideation and depression.

He urged Gerecke to consider a suspended sentence instead of a prison sentence, saying such a move would be in line with a “restorative” approach.

At one point, the judge asked Campbell how a suspended sentence would be restorative for the community.

“I don’t know if I read restorative justice as being specific only to the offender,” Gerecke said.

Between the lawyers and the judge, there was an acknowledgment that deterrence and denunciation must be considered and balanced with other factors.

Snyder said he didn’t want to participate in a “match of tennis”, but took “umbrage” at the idea that the Crown had not sufficiently considered the Gladue factors.

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In making his decision, Gerecke acknowledged the Gladue factors suffered by Keepness, but said his moral culpability was high.

Among the many other considerations Gerecke said he made is that Saskatchewan has a higher rate of impaired driving offenses than other provinces.

Citing case law, he said: “The frequency of an offense in an area may be a relevant factor for a sentencing judge. »

“Concerns about impaired driving have continued to grow. Denunciation and deterrence are clearly the primary sentencing goals that must be met with respect to the offenses here. »

He told Keepness she needed to carefully consider what the rest of her life might be, noting that she should get treatment and counseling for her drug addiction.

“I sincerely hope that you can come out of prison as a young woman with a future full of hope and promise,” the judge said.

Following his sentence in police custody, Keepness will be subject to a three-year driving ban.

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