Tyler Vandewater on trial for alleged murder of fellow Sask. Penitentiary inmate Chris Van Camp

Tyler Vandewater's alleged murder of fellow Saskatchewan inmate Chris Van Camp is at the centre of a trial starting Monday in Prince Albert.

Van Camp, 37, died at Saskatchewan Penitentiary on June 7, 2017 — one of two inmates from the federal facility who died the same day

The RCMP charged Vandewater, 28, with second-degree murder in Van Camp's death. His trial begins Monday at Prince Albert Court of Queen's Bench.  

Saskatoon-based lawyer Brian Pfefferle will defend Vandewater during the judge-alone trial, which is expected to last two weeks. Crown prosecutor Linh Lê will try the case, with Justice Brian Scherman hearing the evidence.

Lauren Laithwaite, Van Camp's mother, said she will be there too. 

"I feel nervous and scared and really sad that it's actually going to go through a trial," she said. 

What we know about June 7, 2017 

Van Camp's death was one of two Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate deaths on the same day, as Correctional Service Canada (CSC) confirmed two days later. 

"Emergency services were called. The inmate [Van Camp] could not be resuscitated," CSC said in a release. 

No other details about Van Camp's death, including the time of death, were provided.

In a separate release issued shortly after, CSC confirmed another Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate, Daniel Tokarchuk, also died on June 7, 2017.

"The offender [Tokarchuk] was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:24 a.m.," the release said.

No connection between Van Camp and 44-year-old Tokarchuk was noted. 

According to CSC, Van Camp had been serving a five-year sentence for a variety of offences, including armed robbery.

Laithwaite, Van Camp's mother, said he was born and raised in Calgary and planned to go back to school to become a crane operator. 

"His family and true friends loved him and miss him very much," she said. "He was kind, looked out for underdogs and those who couldn't protect themselves."


Lawsuit filed

One month after Van Camp's death, Lathwaite sued Correctional Services Canada for negligence, claiming Saskatchewan Penitentiary was improperly staffed and secured. 

According to the statement of claim, while out on parole, Van Camp went into a coma after a drug overdose.

Since one of the conditions of his parole was that he abstain from drugs, he was arrested the day after he awoke. A few days later, he was back in custody at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, with only a few months left on his sentence, according to Lathwaite.

The lawsuit alleges the penitentiary failed to protect the "medically vulnerable" Van Camp from his fellow inmates, and knowingly placed him near "one of the facility's most volatile and violent inmates."

It says no corrections officers intervened during the incident.

Vandewater was serving a sentence for aggravated assault. According to Parole Board of Canada documents, his behaviour included temper tantrums, assaults, property damage and impulsive aggressive actions.

Vandewater declined treatment to curb that behaviour, the documents show. In light of these factors, the board concluded that Vandewater should be kept in prison as long as possible.