Victims say testimony wouldn't be solid after more than a year
Chief Staff Writer
This was supposed to be the week that three Americans were to see justice served after they were attacked and beaten more than a year ago.
Instead they were told that charges against Squamish residents Cory Braumberger, Jason McKinney, Jack Shillito, Nikki Dawe and Kevin Goodwin were stayed.
The five locals were all accused in connection with an attack on Jeremy Dahl, Shannon Scott and Jay Barklay of Washington State at the Kinsmen Campground in Squamish during the Canada Day holiday in 2003.
After many months of investigation by the RCMP, the identities of the accused were established and charges were laid in November 2003.
Shillito, 19, was initially charged with assault, Braumberger, 20, was charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief, while McKinney, 21, Dawe, 19, and and Goodwin, 22, were charged with mischief.
A sixth suspect was charged, but could not be named because the rules of the Youth Justice Act prohibit publication of the then-16-year-old male's identity.
A warrant was issued for his arrest last year.
Trial dates were set for Oct. 4 to 7 and an additional day was set aside for Oct. 12.
As the trial date drew close, the victims had discussions with Crown Counsel to prepare for the trial.
According to Dahl, it became clear that his testimony and that of his friends would not be solid enough to get convictions.
"Jay wouldn't be able to identify people because he can't really remember things because he was pretty much out of it," Dahl told The Chief.
Dahl said that after a year and a half, his memory of what happened that dark night was not strong and he said he couldn't sit in the courtroom with confidence and say who did what. He added that Crown Counsel said he couldn't say he thought he knew what happened but he had to say he knew what happened and who did what.
Scott said she had a similar dilemma.
"I was reading my statements and thinking back and asking myself if I would be able to identify them," Scott said. "I teach teenagers and I know they change every six months. I wasn't sure I would be able to identify them.
"I think it was me pursuing it the most out of the three of us because I deal with teenagers the most."
Barklay took the worst abuse that warm summer night. It is alleged that he was kicked and punched by a number of people.
"We'd like to see the kids get charged for what they did," Barklay said. "At the same time life goes on and we don't want to dwell on it."
Dahl said that he was told witnesses from Squamish were reluctant to testify and those witnesses reportedly indicated they had trouble identifying who was doing what that night.
"It is kind of a crappy deal but it just got to the point where we were fed up with it," said Dahl.
Crown Counsel Alan Mandell handled the case for the Crown. He referred comment to Crown counsel spokesman Geoff Gaul in Victoria, who did not return a message before press time.
Cpl. Dave Ritchie of the Squamish RCMP said his office is aware of the decision. The RCMP requested a report from Crown counsel indicating why the charges were stayed. As of Tuesday (Oct. 5) the RCMP was still awaiting the report.
The Chief attempted to speak with all of the young people allegedly involved in the attack. Lawyer Brian Hughes, who represented Shillito and McKinney, would not discuss the matter beyond confirming that the charges against his clients were stayed. Lawyer Herb Chambers, who was representing Braumberger, did not return a message left by The Chief.
When charges are stayed against an accused, the Crown can pick up the case at any time within a year. If new evidence surfaces, the matter can be revived.