Sentencing has been delayed for Tyler John Campbell, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm to the Dec. 15, 2019 killing of Jeffery (Jeff) Kraft from Ponoka.
On March 4, 2021, the judge Hon. Jim Hunter rejected a joint submission by the Crown prosecutor and the defence for a seven-year sentence for the second time.
Judge Hunter rejected the submission at the Feb. 3 court date and directed counsel to back up their arguments.
Crown prosecutor Ed Ring says while it was an “admittedly horrific offence,” manslaughter was the appropriate charge and seven years is the correct penalty.
Defence lawyer Michael Scrase stated Campbell didn’t intend to shoot Kraft and did not know the shotgun was loaded.
Judge Hunter said “absolutely none of this” was in the agreed statement of facts that backed up the joint submission.
According to Judge Hunter, by law, the court must now give Campbell the opportunity to make an application to withdraw his guilty plea and plead not guilty.
If Campbell does not apply to withdraw retract his guilty plea or the judge does not accept it, sentencing will go forward. If the not guilty plea is accepted, it could mean a new trial with a judge from another jurisdiction.
The case comes back to court on March 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Red Deer Provincial Court.
Although Jeff’s sister Caitlin Kraft and his father Allen Kraft say it’s “scary” to think they could be starting over with a new trial, they are hoping a heavier sentence will come down next week.
“For a chance at a stiffer sentence, I’ll open the wound one more time,” said Caitlin Kraft, Jeff’s sister, in an interview on March 5.
“This week is going to be a killer — crippling, and the waiting is mentally and emotionally exhausting.”
Kraft thanks the about two-dozen supporters who came to the “Justice for Jeff — Justice for All” rally outside the courthouse on March 4.
Kraft, 20, died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Campbell pleaded guilty in November.
Kraft and an acquaintance had met up with Amie Joanne Rogers and got into her vehicle, not knowing that Campbell was in the trunk with a shotgun.
Rogers pulled over on a rural road in northeast Lacombe, and after demanding money from Kraft, Campbell allegedly discharged the firearm, wounding Kraft.
Campbell and Rogers were both charged with second-degree murder, robbery with a firearm and conspiring to commit an offence, however, Rogers was discharged by the Crown Prosecutor in November, citing insufficient evidence.
– With files from Paul Cowley, Red Deer Advocate