Photo by Whitehorse Star
Justice Edith Campbell
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Justice Edith Campbell
A second Carmacks man has been sentenced for his role in the 2017 death of Wilfred “Dickie” Charlie.
Mario Skookum, 28, was sentenced to 3½ years in prison on Tuesday morning in Whitehorse.
Skookum pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year. Initially, he had faced a charge of first-degree murder.
Skookum was granted a five-month sentence reduction due to a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom breach during his case.
The Crown failed to disclose some pieces of information during the case. Justice Edith Campbell said the breach was not the most serious, but was not minor either.
Skookum was additionally sentenced to 30 days in custody for breaching his probation while on bail in 2019.
It was found that Skookum used cocaine while he’d been ordered to abstain from substances. Skookum has remained in custody since that time.
With time served, he has five months remaining in custody.
After he is released, Skookum will serve two years’ probation under several conditions.
He must adhere to a curfew; abstain from drugs and alcohol; attend counselling for substance abuse and trauma; and contact the RCMP or his probation officer before visiting Carmacks.
The condition of informing local authorities before visiting Carmacks was instilled at the recommendation of Crown prosecutor Lauren Whyte.
During the sentencing hearing last month, Whyte said some community members feared seeing Skookum in the village.
The order is not intended to penalize Skookum, but give sufficient notice to residents, Whyte said.
Skookum is also barred from entering liquor-primary businesses, including bars and liquor stores.
His sentence also includes a no-contact condition with the individuals who filed victim impact statements to the court.
Skookum will adhere to a 10-year firearms prohibition with exemption for sustenance hunting and trapping or for employment.
Campbell read the agreed statement of facts to the court on Tuesday morning.
On the evening of June 18, 2017, Skookum was drinking alcohol with his cousins, Tyler Skookum and Rossy Skookum. Tyler was the co-accused in this case.
Heavily intoxicated, the three visited Charlie’s house early on the morning of June 19 seeking more alcohol.
When Charlie refused to give them more alcohol, saying he had none, Tyler began to fight with Charlie. At this point, Rossy left the house.
At some point during this argument, Mario held Charlie down by placing a pillow and knee on Charlie’s back. He demanded that Charlie tell him where his alcohol was.
Tyler then emerged from the kitchen with a knife and began stabbing Charlie.
According to the statement of facts, Mario released Charlie when he realized Tyler was stabbing him. Charlie got up and ran out of the residence, collapsing outside.
Tyler followed Charlie and began moving his body to the bank of the Yukon River. Mario began to help him move the body after Tyler threatened him, but stopped once he realized what he was doing.
Tyler then pushed the body into the river.
Charlie’s body was found on July 5 by Yukon College (now University) staff and students at the Huchá Hudän Field School near Fort Selkirk.
During sentencing, Campbell said that Tyler was considered to be the main perpetrator in the case. Tyler was sentenced to nine years, with approximately five remaining to serve, last week.
The fact that Mario helped push the body toward the river was an aggravating factor, Campbell said. In addition, Charlie’s death has severely impacted and divided the community of Carmacks.
Charlie, who was 57 at the time of his death, was described as a keeper of traditional knowledge who had a good sense of humour and was a comforting presence for his family.
He was a skilled carpenter who built his own home in Carmacks. Due to the violent nature of his death, members of the community decided to burn his house.
Campbell conceded that a prison sentencing could and would not undo the damage and pain caused by Charlie’s death.
Campbell noted, however, that several mitigating factors exist in Mario’s case.
He was revealed to be an intergenerational residential school survivor and a victim of abuse, home insecurity and alcohol abuse in his family.
Mario pleaded guilty and seemed genuinely remorseful, Campbell said.
There is no evidence to suggest that Mario forced his way into Charlie’s home on June 19, nor did Mario intend to cause any harm to Charlie when he went to his house, Campbell said.
Since Charlie’s death in 2017, Mario has completed a number of substance abuse programs and has said he doesn’t want to drink again.
Campbell addressed Mario directly at the end of his sentencing on Tuesday.
“You’re still young, you’re under 30, it seems to me that you genuinely want to deal with the issues that brought you before the court and the trauma associated with them,” Campbell said.
“I want to commend you for the steps you have taken so far, and I encourage you to continue on that path.”
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