A 30-year-old man has been sentenced to 8½ years in prison for hitting and killing another man with his vehicle in southwest Edmonton in March 2021.
Court of King's Bench Justice Steve Hillier sentenced Kevin Ewen on Thursday. Ewen pleaded guilty in August to manslaughter and failing to stop at the scene of an accident where a death was caused.
Bradley Coates was 31 when he died in hospital on March 18, 2021, three days after being struck by a car driven by Ewen.
Hillier delivered the sentence after hearing victim impact statements from 13 members of the Coates family, many who flew in from their home province of Newfoundland.
The victim's father, Bruce Coates, called the sentence disgusting.
"Bradley is sentenced to the ground. He's in the dirt, for a lifetime, for eternity," Bruce Coates said outside the Edmonton Law Courts.
The youngest of seven children in a blended family, Coates had moved to Alberta 11 years before he died. He worked in the construction industry.
"Bradley was the light of our life," his father said. "He was a joy. He was funny. He was a jokester. His smile would light up her room." He added: "It's been devastating to not have him, not to hear his voice."
According to an agreed statement of facts, Coates and Ewen were drinking at a house party on Rutherford Road in southwest Edmonton the evening of March 14, 2021. Both got drunk and started arguing with each other.
Coates was renting a room in the basement of the house, and was unacquainted with Ewen before that night.
Bradley Coates, 31, died from blunt force trauma to the head after being struck by a car on a southwest Edmonton street. (Submitted by Arlene Churchill)
Neighbours said that outside the party, Ewen and Coates engaged in a fist fight and wrestled in the street. Ewen then got into his black 2012 Chevrolet Cruze and "deliberately struck" Coates.
Ewen was driving roughly 39 km/h when he hit Coates, causing him to tumble onto the hood.
"The accused did not swerve or brake to avoid the collision with Mr. Coates but continued to accelerate after the collision, causing Coates to be carried on the hood briefly and then thrown off, striking his head forcefully on the pavement and coming to rest approximately 16 metres from where he stood at the point of impact," the statement of facts says.
Ewen "continued on, leaving Coates fatally injured on the street," the document says.
Ewen didn't turn himself in, but was arrested March 25, 2021. He was originally charged with first-degree murder, which was later downgraded to the agreed-upon charges.
Crown prosecutor Anders Quist had asked the judge to give Ewen 11 years. Amy Lind, Ewen's lawyer, asked for 6½ years.
Lind described it as a tragic event that took 15 seconds to ruin two men's lives.
Hillier's sentencing remarks focused heavily on the use of a vehicle as a weapon against a person on foot.
"It is entirely unacceptable," the judge said. "It is inexcusable."
Ewen's sentence includes a six-year driving ban after he has served his time. The Crown had argued for a lifetime driving ban.
Hole in our heart
Tears and pain permeated the courtroom, as the Coates family gave victim impact statements, many reading letters aloud in front of the court.
"My life, my whole existence changed that morning and sadly has left me scarred and hallowed with a void that will never be filled," Coates said to the courtroom.
Coates was in the hospital for three days before being taken off life support.
"It just tears a hole in our heart," the father said. "He was giving, loving, kind, generous, selfless."
Coates's mother, Arlene Churchill, called the attack a ruthless, brutal and inhumane act that "caused us to lose a precious gift."
"I went from being happy, content," Churchill said. "Now I'm a person full of hatred, full of bitterness, a person who is lost, a person whose spirit is broken."
Cassandra Coates, the victim's sister-in-law, said the pain is a daily shock to the system.
"He absolutely adored his family," she said. "We didn't just lose Brad once; we lose him every day and we will continue to for the rest of our lives. "Hillier said the family's statements powerfully captured the impact of their pain and loss.
Not the first time
At the time he struck Coates, Ewen had been wanted by police for a different hit and run stemming from January 2020.
He fled the scene after running over the leg of his then-girlfriend.
On Oct. 7, 2021, Ewen pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
With the Coates family in the courtroom, Ewen was given the opportunity to deliver a statement. He asked his lawyer to read the statement in court.
"I am sorry to everyone involved in this nightmare," Lind said, reading from Ewen's statement. "I deeply apologize."
'No amount of words will change anything, it will not make you forgive me, it will not bring your loved-one back."
In her submissions, Lind told the court that Ewen, who had been drinking the night he killed Coates, suffered from a turbulent childhood filled with neglect and substance abuse.
Ewen, a Cree Métis man originally from Saskatchewan, was exposed to violence, domestic abuse and substance abuse at a young age.
Substance abuse, Lind argued, is an entrenched, systemic reality of intergenerational trauma for many Indigenous people.
Bruce Coates said portraying Ewen as another victim was "sickening and disrespectful."