Hiles admits to fatal beating

Gregory Wayne Hiles of Halifax admitted in court Tuesday he beat someone to death with a baseball bat but the Crown allowed him to plead guilty to manslaughter instead of trying him on murder charges.

It was the Fall of 1998 that then 19-year-old Hiles went to an apartment building in Spryfield that was a well-known place to buy drugs.

He pulled a ski mask over his head and walked into the bedroom of another 19-year-old, Christopher Ford, and beat him to death with a baseball bat. Ford's hand and arm were broken and his skull was crushed.

The next day Hiles was arrested and charged with 1st degree murder and was facing life in prison.

But in court, the Crown and Defence agreed to let Hiles plead guilty to the charge of manslaughter instead, which brings with it a lesser sentence of just 10 years. The judge sentenced Hiles to 10 years and said Hiles was "NOT getting a sweetheart deal."

The Ford family was told a manslaughter conviction was the best that could be hoped for. "Looking at the Crown's case on its own, it was our position that they would've never, never, never convicted Mr. Hiles of 1st degree murder," says Hile's lawyer, Josh Arnold.

There were gaps in the evidence making it difficult to prove Hiles' actions were premeditated. One of the problems was that Hiles' blood showed he was on a lot of drugs including cocaine, amphetamines, codeine, and morphine.

"If that evidence was before the jury, there is a possibility that the jury could find that they had a reasonable doubt that murder was committed because of the content of drugs in his system," says Crown Prosecutor, Chris Nicholson.

Ford's parents say they'll never get over the loss Hiles has caused them. And the coincidence that their son was killed in the same apartment, the very bedroom where he was conceived, makes his death all the more painful for them.