Defence seeks downgrade in murder charge against Vandewater
PRINCE ALBERT -- Defence counsel Brian Pfefferle on Wednesday asked Justice B.J. Scherman to downgrade the second degree murder charge against Tyler Vandewater to manslaughter.
“The decreased did something to the accused that caused him to fear for his life,” Pfefferle said in his closing argument, adding that the two men were friends and there was no motive for the murder.
“What went on in that cell is unknown to anyone but the accused.”
Christopher Van Camp, 37, was killed inside Saskatchewan Penitentiary on June 7, 2017. Tyler Vandewater is charged with second-degree murder in relation to his death. While out on parole, Van Camp had overdosed and returned to Saskatchewan Penitentiary directly from hospital. Vanderwater is serving a sentence for aggravated assault charges until 2029.
“This isn’t just about the number of wounds. It just about being trapped in a call with someone your size or bigger and our position is that he did respond appropriately,” Pfefferle said.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Shaun Ladham had previously testified that Van Camp’s body had no offensive or defensive wounds to indicate a fight. Pfefferle had argued that Vandewater’s black shirt could have had blood on it, even though no blood was visible in photographs of the shirt entered into evidence.
Crown Prosecutor Linh Le said that even if the court believes Vandewater’s testimony that Van Camp threatened to kill him, it is not a justification for murder.
The facts show that if Vandewater acted in self-defence, he did not use reasonable force, Le said.
Van Camp's mother, Lauren Laithwaite, told CTV News that the judge cannot accept Vandewater’s story.
“You could not have been in a bloody scene like that and not had blood all over it.”
She also said Correctional Services Canada know Vandewater’s violent record and he should not have had a cell mate.
“The people that make the rules in the prison system knew exactly who they had. They knew what he was capable of. They said that he was capable of murder and it came true.”