The prosecutor has failed to convince a panel of judges that a three-year jail sentence was too lenient for a man from Fort McPherson, N.W.T., who beat his cousin to death.
Darcy Brian Nerysoo was sentenced to three years in jail plus three years probation on June 19, 2019 after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
He was initially charged with second-degree murder in the death of Davey Firth Stewart after the two got into a fight during a night of drinking a little over two years ago. Nerysoo admitted in a statement of agreed facts, that he lost his temper after the two began wrestling and punched his cousin repeatedly in the head then stomped him on the stomach.
Authorities did not determine Nerysoo's level of intoxication at the time, but the sentencing judge assumed it was high because he and the cousin had been drinking together and the cousin's blood-alcohol concentration was six times the legal limit for driving, according to the initial sentencing decision.
Nerysoo reached a plea deal to the lesser charge of manslaughter. The prosecutor called for a five-year sentence.
The judge said both Nerysoo and his cousin consented to the fight and there was no indication Nerysoo intended to kill his cousin. The judge also noted that Nerysoo's childhood included disadvantages, such as poverty and not being raised by his birth parents, which many Indigenous people have suffered. The sentencing judge ultimately gave Nerysoo three years in prison.
In the appeal, the prosecutor argued that the judge mischaracterized the assault, failing to take into account that Nerysoo continued to beat his cousin after he was on the ground.
In a written decision released this week dated Aug. 26, the three Northwest Territories Court of Appeal judges said it was difficult for anyone to know with any precision what exactly happened during the confrontation. They concluded that three years in jail and three years probation is not an obviously inappropriate sentence.
According to the decision, Nerysoo was released in late June after serving two years. (Almost all prisoners are released after serving two thirds of their sentence.)