GANDER — Jonathan Roger Whiteway will serve a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years for the shooting death of his stepmother.
The sentence was handed down in Supreme Court in Gander Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Lewisporte native had pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his stepmother, Dianne Whiteway.
Dianne Whiteway was shot and killed in the family home in Lewisporte by her stepson on March 19, 2008. He then turned the gun on himself, inflicting wounds to his chin.
Justice Raymond Whalen reviewed the details from the day of the shooting as well as similar case law in making his decision on sentencing.
Whalen said he felt whatever sentence he delivered would be difficult for those hearing it, saying nothing he can do in sentencing could bring Whiteway back or undo the pain and suffering her family has and will have to endure.
In delivering the sentence, Whalen said the principles of denunciation and deterrence were required, adding he considered Whiteway’s act “brutal and violent.”
Whalen said while he believed the shooting was not planned, it was not totally spontaneous either. He also noted Whiteway had no prior record and there was no evidence put before the court to allow him to predict whether or not Whiteway will be a future danger to the public.
The judge said there is a need for Whiteway — who suffers from a mental illness — to receive continued psychiatric treatment while he is in prison.
The Crown had been seeking 12 years before Whiteway could apply for parole but Whalen said he was not convinced this was a case where more than 10 years of parole ineligibility was required.
The defence had argued Whiteway should receive double time for the time he served on remand since his arrest in March of 2008.
Whalen did not allow extra credit for time served. Whiteway has been in custody for approximately 29 months. His eligibility for parole in 10 years dates back to the time of his arrest, meaning he will serve another 7 1/2 years before he is eligible to apply for parole.
Whalen noted the close relationship Dianne Whiteway had with her family, adding he was struck by their deep religious faith and belief in trying to find forgiveness for the man who murdered their loved one, while still wanting to see justice served.
In giving his victim impact statement to the court last week Dianne Whiteway’s brother, Byron Welsh, said he was trying to forgive Whiteway.
“I am trying to forgive Jonathan,” he said, “but what he did is hard to forgive — it’s real hard.”
Dianne Whiteway’s sister, Maxcena Penney, spoke to reporters on behalf of the family after hearing the sentence Tuesday.
“It’s been a tough two and a half years,” she said. “People say that time heals, when actually what time has done is allow our family the opportunity to find ways of dealing with our grief.”
“As of today we have closure in terms of court proceedings, however, our hearts are hurting and our lives will be affected forever,” she said
Welsh also expressed disappointment with the sentence.
“I know the courts are not magic and they can’t give my sister back,” he said. “Seven and a half years, when you think about it, is not a whole lot of time for such a heinous crime and he’s eligible for parole, but if I have anything to do with it I’ll make sure that’s not the case.”
When asked if he would oppose Whiteway’s parole when he becomes eligible, Welsh said, “Of course. We all will.”
As for what he felt would be a proper sentence, Welsh said, “Life. If I was the judge I would give life without parole, but I’m not the judge.”