Brandy Vittrekwa's killer to be released, plans to go to B.C. for school

The youth, who was convicted of manslaughter in the 2014 death of Brandy Vittrekwa in Whitehorse, will be released from custody next month.

Whitehorse youth pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2015 and was sentenced to 2 years in a youth facility

Brandy Vittrekwa was beaten to death on a walking trail in Whitehorse in 2014. The teenage boy who admitted to killing her was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in a youth facility, and an additional year under community supervision. He'll be released from the youth facility next month. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

A teenage boy who admitted to beating Brandy Vittrekwa and leaving her in the snow to die, will be released from custody next month.

Vittrekwa was 17 years old when she was found dead in the McIntyre subdivision of Whitehorse, in December 2014. The boy, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was sentenced in 2016 to two years in a youth facility in southern B.C., and an additional year under community supervision. 

The youth, whose name is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, will have completed his sentence on June 14.

Crown prosecutors originally pushed to have the teen sentenced as an adult, however, a psychologist that testified at his sentencing hearing recommended against such an action. As a result, his three-year penalty is the maximum allowable sentence for a young offender convicted of manslaughter.

Flowers and other tributes were left near the Whitehorse walking trail where Vittrekwa was found dead, in December 2014. (Karen McColl/CBC)

On Friday, the young man appeared in Yukon Territorial Court for a hearing to review the conditions of his release.

He was given an opportunity to speak at the hearing, and he expressed his guilt and remorse for his involvement with Vittrekwa's death and the pain it caused her family and loved ones. 

The youth also spoke of his determination to complete his high school diploma, and pursue higher education after his release from custody. 

Yukon Territorial Court judge Peter Chisholm said at the hearing that the youth seems to have made noticeable progress during his time in custody, noting that psychological reports indicate he has expressed intense shame and remorse over Vittrekwa's death.

Defence attorney Cathy Rasmussen said the boy has been working hard to complete his high school diploma during his time in custody. Upon being released next month, the boy plans to attend a post-secondary institution in B.C. — with a scholarship.

Prosecutor Ludovic Gouaillier said that some members of the Vittrekwa family are concerned about the youth's upcoming release, but said that attending school out of the territory would reduce the chances of him bumping into them in Whitehorse.

Chisholm stated that pursuing a post-secondary education will also aid in the teen's rehabilitation.

Conditional supervision

Upon moving South, the boy's probation will be transferred to the supervision of the B.C. youth justice system. He is ordered to report to his new probation supervisor immediately upon his release, and is scheduled for another review hearing after his first three months in B.C.

Demonstrators in front of the Yukon courthouse, a day before the youth was sentenced, in June 2016. (Vic Istchenko/CBC)

All previously imposed no-contact orders with the Vittrekwa family remain in place and Chisholm added a number of new names.

The youth is barred from entering Whitehorse's McIntyre Subdivision, as well as the Canada Games Centre, F.H. Collins Secondary School, and the Individual Learning Centre. He has also been ordered to avoid all Kwanlin Dün First Nation lands and events. Chisholm stated that since this order is vague in nature, his new probation supervisor will be allowed to designate specific areas he is to avoid. 

Under conditional supervision, the youth was ordered to keep the peace and maintain good behaviour, to appear before court when required to do so, and to inform his probation supervisor immediately of any future arrests or questioning by police.

The youth has been ordered to refrain from possessing or purchasing firearms, ammunition and explosives, and to refrain from consuming or possessing any alcohol or non-prescription drugs.

The youth is also ordered to attend any counselling and assessment required by the B.C. youth justice system, and to abide by a compulsory curfew, which means he cannot be outside his prescribed residence between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. without written permission. 

If for any reason the youth's plan to pursue post-secondary education in B.C. changes, he must attend another review hearing on June 14.