British Columbia

'I am sorry': Actor who murdered mother addresses court on final day of sentencing hearing

'I cannot explain or justify my actions. I have no excuse,' said Ryan Grantham

Posted: June 15, 2022
Last Updated: June 16, 2022

Ryan Grantham pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on March 9. (Filmifeed)

Ryan Grantham said his mother was a caring and compassionate person who did nothing to deserve what he did to her.

The 24-year-old actor read out a statement in a clear and emotion-filled voice in B.C. Supreme Court on the third and final day of his sentencing hearing for the second-degree murder of Barbara Waite.

"I cannot explain or justify my actions. I have no excuse," said Grantham. "It hurts me to think about how badly I've wasted my life."

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"In the face of something so horrible, saying sorry seems so pointless. But from every fibre of my being, I am sorry," he said. 

Grantham shot Waite in the back of her head as she played piano in their Squamish townhouse on March 31, 2020. The following day, he packed his car with guns, ammunition, 12 Molotov cocktails and a map to Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, with the notion of driving there to kill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence. At issue is the length of time before Grantham is eligible to apply for parole.

Grantham's defence is asking for a period of 12 years, while Crown has asked for 17 to 18 years of ineligibility. 

Homicidal and suicidal urges

The court heard how Grantham was on a downward spiral in the months leading up to the matricide, depressed, experiencing homicidal and suicidal urges, and spending a lot of time online and smoking marijuana.

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Defence lawyer Chris Johnson said at question were two major issues: Grantham's blameworthiness and risk of future danger.

He said mental illness did play a role in Grantham's behaviour, and that he feels significant remorse. 

"At the time of the offence, this killing was not done out of hatred or animosity, it was done in Mr. Grantham's disordered thinking, to prevent his mother from seeing what he thought he was about to do," said Johnson.

Earlier in the hearing, the court heard disturbing details of the murder. Grantham, who is an experienced shooter and gun owner, rehearsed the murder in the days before, walking up behind Waite with a .22 calibre rifle, pointing it at her, but stopping short of pulling the trigger.

On the day of the murder, he loaded and unloaded the gun multiple times, then sat on the townhouse steps for close to 15 minutes considering what to do, before proceeding to kill his mother. 

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A four-minute video Grantham captured on a GoPro camera in the aftermath was shown in court. In it, Grantham confesses and shows his mother's body. 

The next day, after covering the body with a sheet and arranging lit candles around it, he set out for Ottawa. He made it as far as Hope, B.C., where he turned around amidst thoughts of instead killing people at Simon Fraser University — where he was enrolled — the Lions Gate Bridge, or other locations.

He eventually turned himself in to police. 

The defence presented a number of letters of support, including one from Grantham's estranged father, who the Crown said abandoned the family when Grantham was a child. 

Johnson said the court should consider his age — he was 21 at the time of the murder — that he had no previous criminal record, that he turned himself in, confessed fully and has pled guilty. 

In his statement to the court, Grantham said during the past 25 months of incarceration, he's been going to counselling to help address his emotional and psychological issues. 

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"Someday, if I'm ever released from prison, I hope to continue on this path of bettering myself," he said.

Grantham was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree in March.

Justice Kathleen Ker has reserved decision for a future date. 

Grantham has acted in film and television since he was nine years old. His credits include B.C.-filmed TV series including RiverdaleSupernatural and iZombie, and the films Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to clarify that it was the Crown who told the court Grantham's father abandoned the family when Grantham was a child.
    Jun 16, 2022 10:16 AM PT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karin Larsen
@CBCLarsen

Karin Larsen is a former Olympian and award winning sports broadcaster who covers news and sports for CBC Vancouver.