Verdict upgraded to first-degree murder in 2015 shooting

·2 min read

The B.C. Court of Appeal has raised a conviction for a man involved in a drug-related shooting death outside of Prince George to first-degree murder.

The outcome, issued last week, means Darren Cayley Daniel Sundman will have to serve 25 years before he is eligible to apply for parole, up from the 16 years he originally faced upon sentencing in July 2018 for the January 2015 murder of Jordan Taylor McLeod.

McLeod was just 24 years old when he was shot to death after he jumped out of a moving pickup truck just as it had turned onto Upper Fraser Road from Highway 16 to escape his assailants.

The trial judge found Sundman and co-accused Sebastian Martin guilty of murder, but concluded that neither of them could be convicted of first-degree murder because, at the time of the shooting, McLeod’s confinement had come to an end.

Crown prosecution appealed the verdicts arguing that the judge erred in law by requiring proof that the confinement and murder occurred simultaneously.

A three-judge BCCA panel agreed with Crown in the case of Sundman.

"On the facts he found the judge erred in law in concluding McLeod was not confined at the time of the shooting. In addition, he erred in law by assigning legal significance to the brief gap in time between when McLeod jumped from the vehicle and the shooting," the judges said in a summary of their 180-page ruling.

They dismissed the appeal of Martin's conviction, concluding he had not been a party to the confinement.

The judges also dismissed an appeal lodged on behalf of Sundman in which counsel argued the trial judge misapprehended evidence relating to intoxication and that a delay in issuing written reasons on certain pre-trial ruling gave rise to a miscarriage of justice.

The trial judge found Sundman shot McLeod three times before Martin fired twice, killing McLeod almost instantly.

From there, they put McLeod in the back of the truck and drove to the Kaykay Forest Service Road west of the city and dumped his body. McLeod's body was found about a month later while, after some initial apprehension, a key witness to the episode cooperated with police.

Sundman's brother, Kurtis Riley Sundman, was sentenced in July 2018 to a further seven years seven months and 15 days for manslaughter.

Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen