Families ask for justice reform after woman guilty in fatal Saskatoon crash now charged with murder

Alex and Marilou Haughey, parents of J.P. Haughey speak to reporters outside court. (David Shield/CBC - image credit)
Alex and Marilou Haughey, parents of J.P. Haughey speak to reporters outside court. (David Shield/CBC - image credit)

Two grieving families say more needs to be done to keep convicted criminals behind bars after the first court appearance of Cheyann Peeteetuce.

Peeteetuce is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Megan Gallagher and appeared in Saskatoon provincial court on Tuesday morning.

Gallagher hasn't been seen since September 2020 and police are treating her disappearance as a homicide. Five other people are charged in connection to her death, ranging from first-degree murder to offering an indignity to a human body.

This isn't Peeteetuce's first brush with the criminal justice system.

In 2015, Peeteetuce pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death after killing two teenagers in a crash. Police said she was impaired at the time and drove a stolen truck through a stop sign, hitting another vehicle.

The crash killed 17-year-old J.P. Haughey and his passenger, 17-year-old Sarah Wensley. A third girl in the vehicle survived.

After the new murder charge, the parents of the two teenagers say they want changes to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"I'm really not surprised to see [Peeteetuce] in court," said David Wensley, speaking to reporters outside of the courthouse.

"Megan is just a victim of our justice system."

Wensley has been following Peeteetuce's travels through the judicial system for years.

Peeteetuce received a six-year sentence in connection to the crash and received a statutory released in 2018 after serving two-thirds of her sentence.

David Shield/CBC
David Shield/CBC

Five months after her release, Peeteetuce was arrested for breaching her parole conditions and given a 30-day sentence.

Shortly after, her statutory release was revoked by the parole board.

Wensley said if Peeteetuce had served her entire sentence in prison, she would not have been available to be charged in the murder, which is believed to have taken place in 2020.

"We need judges to be held responsible," said Wensley.

"We need accountability for what's going on in courtrooms.… There's no accountability for anything anybody does anymore."

Justice reform

Alex and Marilou Haughey, parents of J.P. Haughey, also said they want changes to the justice system.

Alex said he would like to see statutory release abolished. He said he had been talking to people who had been caring for Peeteetuce at her bail hearing, and was told she was not ready to be released.

"I hate to say it, but we told you so," said Alex Haughey.

"We said this is going to happen. She's that kind of person."

Marilou Haughey said that if Peeteetuce is found guilty of first-degree murder and given a life sentence, it may provide her with some closure.

"No matter what they do, they can't bring back J.P. and Sarah and Megan," she said.

"Maybe this is justice if they can lock her up for good."

Madeline Kotzer/CBC
Madeline Kotzer/CBC

Meanwhile, Megan Gallagher's family said they're grateful to see another person has been charged in connection with their daughter's death.

The family has long maintained that people in the community should come forward with information and is glad someone did.

"It's the way that we resolve these things," said Megan's father, Brian.

"Keeping the silence just doesn't do it isn't doing anybody good. Breaking the silence works."

The Crown prosecutor said she was opposed to Peeteetuce's release on bail and that Peeteetuce was also ordered not to contact her co-accused in the death of Megan Gallagher.

She will make her next court appearance in October.