A man who admitted to being involved in the 2009 stabbing death of Angela Crossman of Abbotsford was sentenced yesterday (Friday) to serve an additional 9.5 years in prison.
Ian Michael Hewitt, 39, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster to 12 years on a charge of manslaughter, but he was given 2.5 years’ credit for time already served.
Hewitt went to trial starting in February of last year on a charge of first-degree murder in relation to Crossman’s death, but the case ended in a mistrial in November, when the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision.
The Crown had planned to pursue a new trial, but, instead, an agreement was reached for Hewitt to plead guilty to manslaughter.
Several of the former jury members were in the courtroom on Friday for Hewitt’s sentencing.
Speaking at the hearing, Crown lawyer Theresa Iandiorio said a new trial likely would have taken until 2019 to complete.
She and defence lawyer Dan Henderson presented an agreed statement of facts to the court, with both recommending that Hewitt be handed a 12-year prison term.
Crossman and Hewitt were both living with Hewitt’s best friend, Alexander Paul, and his family at their home on Hillcrest Avenue in Abbotsford at the time of the killing.
Iandiorio said that on the afternoon of June 10, 2009, Paul dropped off Crossman at the hospital because she was behaving erratically.
He was at a local pub later that night with Hewitt when he received a call from his wife that Crossman, 39, had appeared back home, saying she had received a ride from police.
Iandiorio said Paul was angered, because he believed that Crossman was lying and that she had not received treatment for her mental-health issues. He indicated he planned to evict her that night.
Hewitt and Paul, who were both intoxicated, drove home from the pub, and Paul asked to speak to Crossman outside.
Iandiorio said Hewitt remained in the home, and when Paul returned, he told Hewitt that he had strangled Crossman and he needed to get rid of her.
The pair moved an unconscious Crossman into the trunk of Paul’s vehicle, and they drove to a remote area of Elbow Lake, north of Harrison Mills, in the early morning of June 11.
They placed her in a campsite, and Paul stated that they should stab Crossman to make her death look like a serial killing, Iandiorio said.
She said the pair stabbed Crossman several times and slashed her throat, and she died due to blood loss from those wounds.
Crossman’s body was found around noon that day.
Iandiorio said Hewitt was “too intoxicated to form the intention to kill or to recall exactly which wounds he inflicted.”
Paul died about a month later, after being shot by a friend during an altercation. (That friend later cited self-defence and was acquitted of second-degree murder.)
Hewitt’s lawyer said his client was in a period of instability at the time of the killing. He was using drugs and alcohol, was experiencing depression and anxiety, and was virtually homeless.
Hewitt felt grateful to Paul, whom he had know since the age of 13, for offering him free accommodation and providing him with drugs and liquor.
“Ian believes that he never would have agreed to participate in the activity outlined … but for his deep loyalty and love for Alex and also, of course, his intoxication at the time of this offence,” Henderson said.
He said Hewitt is “truly regretful and truly remorseful” for the role he played in Crossman’s death, and is determined to lead a “sober lifestyle” for the rest of his life.
“He has told me that he is now focused on healing himself so her senseless death was not in vain.”
Crossman’s parents and one of her brothers watched the proceedings via a video link, and provided victim-impact statements.
They said Crossman, who was adopted by them at the age of four, had faced many challenges in life, including a brain-stem injury, scoliosis of the spine and partial facial paralysis.
But they said she had played several instruments, had a “beautiful singing voice,” and was determined, head-strong and articulate.
“Relationship problems and health issues led to some tough years for Angela, but through it all, she never lost her ability to be positive and cheerful and happy. She could always bounce back from adversity,” her brother Doug indicated in a statement read by Crossman’s father, Gary.
Her mom, Dorothy, said her daughter had many friends who loved her.
“She didn’t always make good choices in the friends she made, which took her life in the end.”
Justice Austin Cullen stated that 12 years is on the “high end” for a manslaughter sentence, but said it was warranted in this case due to the “disturbing circumstances” and because it “represents a brutal and determined attack on a defenceless and vulnerable person.”
“To have a child and a sister die in such circumstances is a strike at the heart of any loving family. It emphasizes the profound damage that violence wreaks on those directly affected by it, but also in the larger community,” Cullen said.