An Ahousaht First Nation man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for manslaughter for the killing of a fellow tribe member last year.
Judge Allan Gould rendered the sentence Monday (Feb. 13) against Christopher Mathias Sam, 22, for killing Ray Samuel Junior, 45, in May of 2011.
Gould further sentenced Sam to three years for sexual assault causing bodily harm to a second victim involved in the same incident.
Sam is also required to submit samples of his DNA to the federal criminal data bank, as well as register as a sex offender for 20 years. Sam, who remains in custody but appeared in court, declined the opportunity to speak to the judge
Sam pleaded guilty to both charges. The Crown stayed charges of second degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and common assault.
The sentence suggestion was jointly submitted by provincial prosecutor Gordon Baines and defense counsel Clint Sadlemyer.
“This was a horrific, tragic brutal attack — there’s just no way around it,” Gould said.
Baines gave an accounting of the incident, which occurred in May 2011.
Sam was drinking alcohol with friends when they accepted an invitation from Samuel via VHF radio to continue drinking at his house.
Accompanied by a male and female, Sam made his way to Samuel’s house where they continued to drink alcohol and socialize. There was no animosity reported between Samuel and Sam, Baines said.
By midnight Samuel, Sam and the female passed out and the others left the house.
Some time later, Sam awoke, walked downstairs and retrieved a hatchet, which he then used to strike a still-sleeping Samuel multiple times.
The female awoke and saw that Samuel was bleeding heavily but still breathing. The woman scrambled to call for help over a VHF radio but Sam attacked her, saying “The devil told me to kill you just like he told me to kill him,” Baines read in the woman’s statement to police.
Sam repeatedly punched the woman in the face then began sexually assaulting her when Samuel’s son entered the room and intervened. The younger Samuel and Sam fought before Sam fled, disrobed below the waist, and was arrested by police a short time later.
Ray Samuel Junior was transported to hospital in Victoria where he died of his injuries.
The female victim continues to deal with her injuries and has suffered nerve damage to one side of her face, Baines said.
Sam said he had no recollection of the incident when he awoke in police custody, an assertion he continues to make, Sadlemyer said.
Sam didn’t have a lengthy record but “every offense committed is related to alcohol,” Baines said.
Families and a whole community are left to cope in the wake of the attack, Sadlemyer said. Ahousaht is layered with a cultural matrix of close family relationships, and the people involved in the incident are all related to one another. “The community is divided but the lines are blurred,” Sadlemyer said.
Once confronted with the facts, Sam pleaded guilty early in the process. “He’s taken responsibility for those acts,” Sadlemyer said. “He doesn’t know what to say other than to say sorry and that he wishes this never happened.”
Members from both families declined to comment.