Yukon court dismisses Whitehorse man's appeal of 2nd-degree murder conviction

·1 min read
The courthouse in Whitehorse as seen from Second Avenue. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)
The courthouse in Whitehorse as seen from Second Avenue. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

The Yukon Court of Appeal has dismissed the case of a Whitehorse man convicted of second-degree murder in the 2015 slaying of 25-year-old Christopher Brisson.

Darryl Sheepway, who was found guilty after a 2018 judge-alone trial in the Yukon Supreme Court, was seeking a new trial. He was originally charged with first-degree murder after shooting Brisson during a botched robbery near a Whitehorse gravel pit.

Sheepway lured Brisson under the guise of purchasing crack cocaine from him.

While Sheepway admitted to causing Brisson's death, he maintained he didn't intend to hurt him and asked to be found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter..

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower instead found him guilty of second-degree murder, ruling that while the Crown failed to prove Sheepway planned to kill Brisson — a key element of first-degree murder — he'd shot at Brisson with the intent to harm him and knew it would likely cause death.

At an appeal hearing in January, Sheepway's lawyer alleged the trial judge made a number of legal errors before arriving at that conclusion, including allowing the Crown to call an additional witness to rebut testimony about the impact crack cocaine addiction had on Sheepway's mental state and improperly analyzing Sheepway's intent.

Yukon Court of Appeal Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, in a written decision issued April 28, disagreed, ruling that Gower made reasonable inferences and ultimately, a reasonable decision, based on the evidence presented to him at trial.

She dismissed Sheepway's appeal in its entirety, a decision supported by Justices David Frankel and Lauri Ann Fenlon.

Sheepway will continue to serve his sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years.

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