Manitoba

Mother of slain Jordan Thomas pans 7-year sentence as 'not enough' for man who killed son

Family of former St. John's High School quarterback Jordan Thomas say they have mixed feelings on the day a Manitoba judge convicted an 18-year-old of second-degree murder in his death.

Thomas, 18, and older brother were attacked by then 17-year-old last December

Family of Jordan Thomas, who was stabbed to death outside David Livingston School in December 2017, say they aren't satisfied with the seven-year sentence delivered to the 18-year-old who murdered Thomas. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

The mother of former St. John's High School quarterback Jordan Thomas wept outside a Winnipeg court Thursday and said the 18-year-old convicted of murdering her son deserved a harsher sentence.

"It's not right," an emotional Kathleen Bremner said, flanked by two dozen friends and family outside the Winnipeg law courts.

Provincial court Judge Lee Ann Martin sentenced the man, who was 17 at the time of the attack, to a maximum youth term of seven years for second-degree murder in Jordan's death, and three years for attempting to murder his older brother, 21-year-old Brandon Thomas. 

"Seven years for murdering my son and almost killing my other son, that's not enough time," Bremner said. "We have to deal with the loss of Jordan for the rest of our lives."

Kathleen Bremner says seven years isn't enough time for the man, 17 at the time of the fatal attack, who killed her son Jordan Thomas. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

The sentence length, as well as an intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision order, were jointly requested by Crown attorney Lisa Carson and defence lawyer Scott Newman. He will serve the first four in custody and the final three under supervised conditions.

Newman and Carson agreed to the terms, in part, based on the accused's troubled upbringing. He lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome and addictions issues; alcohol and drug use was normalized in his home growing up; and he did not entirely comprehend his actions the day he killed Jordan and has shown remorse, court heard.

He had no prior criminal record and pleaded guilty.

Judge Martin said the man will have access to the highly specialized resources necessary for rehabilitation and to ensure he is less of a risk to the public upon release.

Found bleeding in snowy field

Then 17, the man and two 14-year-old girls attacked Jordan, 18, and Brandon in the early morning hours of Dec. 13, 2017. None of the accused can be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Police blocked off part of a field behind David Livingston School, near Charles Walk, after the stabbing. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Police found the brothers bleeding from multiple stab wounds in a snowy field near David Livingston School in Point Douglas.

"When I walk by that spot now that's all I see," Bremner said.

Court heard the trio jumped the brothers and tried to steal their alcohol. A fight ensued and the 17-year-old pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed the brothers.

Jordan Thomas, 18, was in Grade 12 at St. John's High School when he was murdered. (Facebook)

Both were rushed to hospital in critical condition. Jordan was pronounced dead and Brandon spent the next three weeks at the Health Sciences Centres.

Surveillance camera from a nearby building helped police get descriptions of the suspects. All three were later located, some with blood stains on their clothes, at a home on Magnus Avenue.

'Always going to love Jordan'

Jordan's mother, sister, cousins and grandmother  — the last of whom spent more than a decade in residential schools — read victim impact statements before a gallery with more than 20 family and friends present.

Bremner said one of the hardest parts of the ordeal was having to go to the Health Sciences Centre to identify her son's body.

Thomas's grandmother Cecelia Pelletier, left, holds up a graduation photo of Jordan outside the Winnipeg law courts Thursday. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

"It's something no parent should ever have to do," she said while weeping in court. 

She said she is on medication for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

"He took 60 years of my son's life away," said Jordan's father, Lance Thomas, standing beside Bremner outside court as he did earlier when she read a tearful victim impact statement. "We're always going to love Jordan."

Bremner said the family has struggled to process the loss together.

'How senseless all of this is'

Judge Martin said after hearing their statements that she was struck by "how senseless all of this is."

It's clear both families struggle with the legacy of residential schools, she said.

I find your family so very strong.- Judge Lee Ann Martin

Bremner praised Jordan and Brandon's family for defying that legacy to raise such impressive young men, and for having the courage to read such wrenching victim impact statements in court.

"I find your family so very strong," she said.

"It also takes a great deal of strength to let those tears roll down your face when you say, 'I am hurt, I am angry, and I have a hole in my heart and am at a loss.'"

'Followed in my footsteps'

Brandon echoed descriptions of his brother made in court.

Jordan took over for Brandon as quarterback for St. John's, and Brandon recalled his younger brother as a humble, hard-working person who was mature beyond his age and respected by his peers.

He had dreams of going on to play for the Winnipeg Rifles or Blue Bombers.

Lance Thomas, Jordan Thomas's dad, holds a photograph at a vigil earlier this year of Jordan playing football as the quarterback for St. John's High School. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

"He followed in my footsteps, did a way better job than me," he said. "Everyone in that school looked up to him."

His father Lance Thomas said Jordan took St. John's to its first high school football championship in more than a decade.

"He was amazing," Lance said.

'I still have nightmares'

Brandon is still recovering from the attack almost 10 months later. Some of the 19 scars were clearly visible on his face and head.

He doesn't remember anything from that night, and says he may continue to struggle with the thought that he wasn't able to save his brother.

"Everything is foggy," he said.

"It was good being here today, it's closure, because now I know what he looks like. I still have nightmares of trying to get to my brother, and I probably still will have nightmares, but it's closure for sure and [a] step in the right direction."

'It's closure': Judge sentences 18-year-old to 7 years in murder of Jordan Thomas

4 years ago
Duration 1:44
A judge convicted an 18-year-old of second-degree murder and attempted murder Thursday in Winnipeg. The man, who was 17 at the time of the attack, received the maximum youth sentence in the death of Jordan Thomas and stabbing of his brother Brandon Thomas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryce Hoye

Journalist

Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform Manitoba journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC's Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC.

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