Teen gets 2 years for refusing to testify in murder trial
Jerricho Upshaw one of three accused in Glenn Oakley's death
A Halifax teenager who refused to testify at the murder trial of a co-accused has been sentenced to two years in prison for being in contempt of the court.
Jerricho Upshaw, 19, was subpoenaed to testify against a youth charged with first-degree murder in the November 2011 death of 70-year-old Glenn Oakley in Spryfield.
He would not answer a prosecutor’s questions during the youth's trial in September, leading Judge Anne Derrick to cite Upshaw for contempt.
"Mr. Upshaw chose not to show cause as to why he should not be held in contempt and did not otherwise indicate why he was refusing to testify," Derrick wrote in her sentencing decision, released Monday.
"He did however provide an explanation in the interview for his pre-sentence report. The report notes the following: '…the offender stated he takes responsibility for his actions and regrets his charge but stated he is not a 'rat.'"
Oakley was found injured on a sidewalk on Drysdale Road in November 2011 while he was out for his usual evening walk. He died a short time later.
'Not a lenient sentence,' says judge
The youth, who was 17 years old at the time of Oakley's killing, was eventually found guilty of manslaughter as well as theft, possession of stolen property, fraudulent use of a credit card and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
His identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Upshaw is also charged in connection with Oakley's death. He will stand trial in April for second-degree murder, robbery, possession of stolen property, fraudulent use of a credit card and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
A third man, Christopher Picco, is charged as an accessory to murder after the fact. His trial is set for June.
Upshaw — who has been in custody at the Nova Scotia Central Correctional Facility in Dartmouth for more than a year — will now head to a federal penitentiary.
Derrick said his refusal to testify was a "singular and grave affront to the administration of justice."
"His refusal to testify when under subpoena as an eyewitness in a first-degree murder trial is contempt of the court’s processes of the highest order," Derrick wrote.
"A two-year penitentiary sentence is not a lenient sentence. It is a substantial sentence that demonstrates the court’s intolerance for witnesses who take the law into their own hands."