17-year-old gets maximum youth sentence in videotaped beating death of Serena McKay

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17-year-old gets maximum youth sentence in videotaped beating death of Serena McKay

A Manitoba judge has sentenced a 17-year-old girl to two years in prison and a year of conditional supervision for manslaughter in the April 2017 beating death of her schoolmate, Serena McKay.

The teen, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was sentenced as a youth for the attack in Sagkeeng First Nation, which she led when she was 16.

Crown attorney Jennifer Comack had sought an adult sentence.

McKay's family began screaming in court after provincial court Judge Lindy Choy read the sentence. Some shouted "No justice." Security was called to escort them out.

The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January for the attack, which was videotaped.

An older girl who was also involved in the attack pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced in June to 40 months in custody, followed by 23 months of community supervision.

McKay, a 19-year-old high school student, was beaten and left to die by the two girls, who were her schoolmates. Two graphic videos of the attack were later shared widely on social media.

Court heard she had 67 injuries to her body and a pathologist testified she likely died of hypothermia when she was unable to seek shelter due to her injuries and intoxication.

After the sentencing, McKay's mother, Delores Daniels, said the family is angry. Many relatives were in court for the sentencing, wearing red shirts commemorating McKay and holding signs. They gathered on the steps of the Winnipeg courthouse afterward.

"We expected an adult sentence," Daniels said. "And we didn't get what we deserved. My daughter didn't get what she deserved."

"It's a slap in the face," one of McKay's brothers added.

Daniels said she wants to see changes to how the justice system handles young offenders and said she doesn't agree that her daughter's assailants weren't mature.

She said her daughter was a strong, beautiful young woman with her life ahead of her. McKay was two months away from graduating high school when she died.

"She was a good girl, you know? And she always helped everybody," Daniels said. "Why couldn't they help her? They just left her to die."

Traumatic past

As she read the sentence, Choy called the attack "horrific."

"Clearly you had no mercy. You were even bragging about what you did," Choy said to the teen in court.

The judge said it was an "incredibly difficult decision" to sentence the teen as a youth, but said she did not exhibit adult-like behaviour during the crime.

In June, the Crown attorney told the court that sentencing the younger girl as a youth would be too lenient.

Comack argued, after showing the videos of the attack in court, the teen's actions were those of an adult. 

She went on to say the teen asked her co-accused to lie to police.

The older teen, now 18, was 17 years old at the time of the attack. She was sentenced as a youth.

Court heard the videos were filmed on the older girl's phone and she was the first person to send them to a friend.

Justice Rocky Pollack told the older girl during sentencing that he was prepared to give her the maximum four years in custody.

However, he said he went with a lesser 40-month sentence after factoring in the traumatic past of her family's history in residential schools, the loss of her father and her own battle with substance abuse.

Court heard the teen had no prior criminal record.

Sagkeeng is about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, where the Winnipeg River enters Lake Winnipeg.