LEGAL SYSTEM DEVALUED THE LIFE OF KENDALL WIEBE

Image: Shutterstock - pukhouskaya ina

Last Thursday, a few hours after the story broke in a Winnipeg court room, I posted the following on Facebook: “The man who drove into a Winnipeg hair salon at high-speed 3 years ago gets only 90 days in jail. He killed a young mom. He had many crashes over the years, most of which he was 100% at fault for. He even crashed after the death of Kendall Wiebe. 90 days in jail. That's his sentence and his license is being pulled for 8 years. Oh, one more thing. He'll be doing his jail time on weekends only.” 

And I shared a news report from Sean Leslie @680CJOB News and a list of Adebola Shoyoye's prior traffic incidents (see below, along with sound files of full monoloque and interview with Kendall Wiebe's husband):

I completed my post with this: “Please let me know what you think of this sentence. It doesn't matter to me whether you live in Winnipeg or anywhere else in Canada. A human life is gone, taken not with a gun or knife, but with a car driven by someone who has been a public menace. He should never have been behind the wheel. The facts laid out in this post speak for themselves. If you agree that this sentence is dangerously light please "like" and "share."

As you can imagine, there are well over a 100,000 views on this one, over a thousand shares, and hundreds of “likes” and comments. The responses are from people all over the world, and this means 3 things:

1) People do give a damn.

2) People are not interested in legal spin.

3) The decision is an international disgrace.

When you do a search of the word “accident” and what happened three years ago at that shopping centre in St James, there are dozens of stories. Nobody who takes the word “accident” seriously thinks of what happened that day as an accident. As Kendall Weibe’s husband told us on Friday, the judge at the preliminary hearing wanted the Crown to go for Criminal Negligence - he looked at the facts and believed this was no accident. This wasn’t just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A conviction on that charge would have put the driver in jail for several years, much more than the two the Crown ended up asking for on the lower charge of dangerous driving causing death. And a different Judge ended up giving the man 90 days, to be served on weekends.

Kendall Weibe’s husband was forced to hear words like  “We don’t want another person’s life destroyed”, meaning what exactly? It could only mean one thing - we value the life of a reckless and dangerous person as much as we value the life of a young woman who was just doing her job, cutting and washing hair, and feeding her babies. We value her life not one iota more than we value a serial crasher, a man who just felt like going really fast, and according to his lawyer, not knowing the difference between the gas petal and the brake. If he was on booze or pills, or some hallucinogenic, they would have put him away for a hell of a lot longer than 90 days, to be served on weekends. But if someone is doing this while stone cold sober, in so many ways it’s even worse. In so many ways there are no excuses. This was no accident. This is just not carelessness. This is criminal. 

Before pronouncing the sentence, the Judge said that sentencing is not about vengeance. Does anyone think Kendall Wiebe’s family was asking for vengeance? They had dealt without engaging in anything vengeful with the idea that he was only going to get 2 years. And now they had to take the extra body blow - 90 days to be served on weekends. If we talk about vengeance, it’s almost as if the legal industry is taking its vengeance out on the families of victims who dare ask for justice. How dare they be such nuisances. How dare they make demands of a system, which is too crowded. Not enough crown attorneys. You can’t have a trial every time a young mother is killed. Not enough crown attorneys. Not enough court time. Not enough jail space. How dare Canadian families make such demands on our judicial system and corrections system…

The system appears to be taking revenge on us for asking not for vengeance, but for fairness, for honour. We wish to honour the human life of Kendall Wiebe that was taken from her in a criminal act, in a criminal way, by a person who showed over the years no sense of respect for other people’s lives and property. Punishing the innocent is not a Canadian value. That’s what happened last Thursday in Winnipeg. Instead of punishing the guilty, Canadian law punished the innocent. 

One last thing while we’re telling the truth. Could this have happened if Kendall Wiebe was Kendall Selinger or Kendall Bowman or Kendall Richardson or Kendall Chipman or Kendall Asper? Would this have happened if she were the daughter of a Somebody? The question is uncomfortable. But I owe it to you, readers and listeners, not to avoid uncomfortable questions. I know what it’s like to be considered a Nobody. My family and many families listening know what it’s like to be thought of as Nobodies. 

If Kendall Wiebe were able to speak from the grave to that court, what would she say? She might say that she doesn’t understand why she had to die and why she couldn’t spend many years with the children she mothered and with the man she loved and why she couldn’t continue to enjoy being the daughter of two very good people and a hard working person at a hair salon giving the customer the benefits of attractiveness and a compassionate ear. Hairdressers do such more than cut and style. They’re great listeners. Would the court have listened to Kendall Wiebe and respected her life if they could hear her story in her own voice?

In the world we live in someone is supposed to speak for the dead and the injured and the families who suffer. That somebody is the Crown. The Crown is supposed to speak for Kendall Wiebe. But while she was very much a “somebody” to so many people in our community, to the legal system, the legal industry, she was a “nobody” and she was treated like one.  Am I biased in my assessment? Yes I am. I am always biased in favour of the Nobodies. I am always biased in favour of those who never had a powerful voice acting in their behalf. 

Mother’s Day is only days away and there will be some babies in St. James who won’t be with their mother. We all know why. And all of us Nobodies know why nobody is paying a price for taking their mom’s life. I can only be grateful for the fact that they are still too young to understand that a Canadian court has decided the price of their mother’s life wasn’t very high. Some day I want to meet them and tell them that the people listening to this voice, and the people on the Facebook page, think their mother’s life had real value, that she was a real human being and a good human being. And all of us Nobodies apologize for what happened Thursday, April 30, 2015 in a Winnipeg Court Room.

Whether we like it or not, under the rule of law that Judge on that day in speaking for none of us, was speaking for all of us. And in a world where Nobodies get crashed into every day, that too was no accident.

I’m Charles Adler.

Report from Sean Leslie at 680 CJOB News

Adebola Shoyoye was sentenced at the law courts this afternoon and faced as much as up to two years behind bars. In 2012 he sped across Portage Avenue, through the Crestview Shopping Centre parking lot and into the Ultracuts storefront. 27-year-old Kendall Wiebe was killed. Another woman was injured. Her husband Steve Cancilla says he’ll never be able to forgive Shoyoye. “When you have that amount of time there is a million things you can do with a vehicle in order to stop it. It doesn’t make sense, it never will,” said Cancilla.

Shoyoye had numerous at-fault collisions and tickets on his driving record before the crash. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death earlier this month. Judge Chris Martin said the 90 days will be served intermittently and also banned Shoyoye from driving for eight years.

Shoyoye didn’t show any reaction in court to the sentence.

Traffic incidents involving Adebola Shoyoye *Crashes deemed 100 per cent Shoyoye's fault, and Highway Traffic Act incidents:

June 20, 2005: He drove over the centre median and hit another car, later telling insurance officials his steering wasn't working. Total damage: $1,400.

Sept 10, 2005: Driving without insurance. $250 fine.

April 24, 2007: He hit a parked vehicle while driving downtown. Total damage: $2,184.

May 5, 2007: He changed lanes when unsafe to do so and was hit by another car behind him. Total damage: $3,400.

June 7, 2007: He rear-ended a driver who was stopped at an intersection. Total damage: $6,500.

Dec. 24, 2007: Speeding, 140 km/h in a 100 zone. $402 fine.

Jan. 17, 2008: He made a left turn when unsafe to do so and hit another car. Total damage: $5,200.

Oct. 17, 2008: Speeding, 66 km/h in a 50 zone. $140 fine.

June 25, 2009: In a parking lot, he struck an overhanging sign and did major damage to the roof of his van. Total damage: $5,600.

Sept. 11, 2009: Running a stop sign. $190 fine.

Sept. 11, 2009: Failing to display licence plate. Reprimand.

Feb. 28, 2011: He edged out from a stop sign and hit another car that had the right-of-way. Total damage: not disclosed by Crown, unavailable at request from the Free Press on Tuesday.

June 25, 2011: Driving without insurance. Absolute discharge (His pregnant sister was in medical distress, court told).

April 7, 2012: Deadly crash into Ultracuts that killed Kendall Wiebe.

June 17, 2013: He failed to yield for oncoming traffic and hit another vehicle. Total damage: not disclosed by Crown, unavailable at request from the Free Press on Tuesday.

Aug. 23, 2013: Speeding, 65 km/h in a 50. $167 fine.

Aug. 25, 2013: Running a red light. Reprimand.

TOTAL:

Eight crashes deemed his fault. There is $24,284 damage in the six where figures were provided by the Crown.

Eight HTA infractions, $1,149 in total fines

 

Listen to "The Legal System Devalued Kendall Wiebe" - Charles Adler Monologue

Charles discusses the sentence with Kendall Wiebe's husband.