An eastern Ontario man convicted of manslaughter 18 months ago after a 2008 bar fight says the wait for his sentence has been terrifying and the victim's father says he can't find closure until the man is sentenced.
Gerald Camelon, now 40, was found guilty on St. Patrick's Day 2011 of manslaughter in the death of 40-year-old Shawn Ayotte.
Ayotte and Camelon, who had previously known of each other while doing time in a Brockville, Ont., jail, had come face to face on Nov. 7, 2008 outside the Mississippi Ale House in Carleton Place, Ont., which is now called Shenanigans Restaurant & Bar.
Camelon, a resident of Franktown, Ont., who had earlier suffered a severe head injury in a car crash, said Ayotte threatened to knock him out and "to be knocked out is death," he told CBC News.
Surveillance video captured incident
Video from the bar, which was shared with the CBC's Evan Dyer, showed Ayotte pointing at Camelon from about seven or eight feet away before Camelon lunged and tackled him.
Ayotte's head struck the ground and he died four days later.
After a short trial in late 2010, Camelon was convicted but he still waits for a sentence despite five scheduled appearances for sentencing.
Numerous delays in proceedings
The evidence phase of Camelon's trial ended in November 2010, but the judge didn't deliver his verdict until March 17, 2011.
At that point, the judge ordered the parties to return to court to set a date for sentencing six weeks later. But when the lawyers reconvened, the judge adjourned proceedings to October 2011. Then proceedings were adjourned again to December 5, 2011, and several more adjournments followed throughout that winter and the following spring and summer. Some of the delays were caused by Camelon's own defense. He switched lawyers twice since the trial began. Another lengthy postponement was ordered to await a psychiatrist's report and a pre-sentencing report.
In other instances the judge merely wrote postponement notices by hand on the court documents without explaining the reasons.
Camelon said he has already spent about $90,000 on court appearances with three separate lawyers.
"This whole experience has been terrifying, extremely disturbing that, one, that Mr. Ayotte died and two, that I have to go through this process," Camelon said from his home where he currently lives under an 11 p.m. ET curfew.
"I don't believe this is just and how it is this whole process has taken so long. I don't believe that anyone else should have to go through this … I could have already had my appeal process put in and went through everything and heard my appeal. But yet I still haven't started this process."
Fear of only a 'hand slap,' victim's father says
The victim's father, Maurice Ayotte, said he hopes Camelon "gets what is coming to him." But the man also worries his son's killer will get off easy due to the lengthy court delays.
"I feel that he'd just get a hand slap. The way it has been going, he has been out on the streets ever since it happened," Ayotte said. "It almost seems like it was just an ordinary fight."
Ayotte says he didn't even know Camelon was out until someone told him they had seen Camelon on the street. Ayotte had believed all along his son's killer was in jail.
The next scheduled court appearance is in November. Camelon said he is eager for his sentence so he can appeal his conviction and sentence.
Camelon could face a maximum of 25 years in prison.
But for now, Ayotte said the wait has been very difficult on him and his family. He said the sentence should have been immediate.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a manslaughter charge can result in:
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
"I couldn't bring Shawn back but I felt he should have at least been punished," he said.
Camelon, who was originally put under house arrest after his conviction, agreed with Ayotte saying he feels imprisoned already because he does not know when his last day out will be.
"I want to get on with my life. This isn't my life," he said.