The Murder of Wesley Hallam: Timeline of the Hearings and More.

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October 1, 2012

Accused Chuckle, Family Weeps

The second week of preliminary hearings concerning the decapitation and dismemberment of Wesley Hallam resumed on Monday. The third witness to take the stand completed her often tearful testimony this afternoon.

Toward the end of the afternoon, the fourth witness, a fresh faced, slender youth, took the stand to provide his testimony. Visibly upset, the young male required several breaks to compose his emotions before completing his responses to Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson. At one point, the mother of the witness left the courtroom crying and needing to recover her composure. Questioning of this young witness by the Crown and the accused’s counsel will continue Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Ronald Mitchell, 27, Eric Mearow, 27, and Dylan Jocko, 28, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s, 29, remains. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Wesley Hallam was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

Mitchell and Jocko smiled and chuckled back and forth together every so often as witnesses provided their testimonies. Mearow, who was continuously in motion either wobbling on the back legs of his chair or tugging on his goatee, had a moment of pause when one of the witnesses fell apart on the stand, giving over to irrepressible sobbing. Mearow leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and bowed his head.

Over the course of the day about thirty people attended Monday’s proceedings. Security continues to be highly visible inside and outside the courtroom with officers from the Sault Ste. Marie Police tactical unit, Emergency Services Unit, in attendance.

Throughout the day, Hallam’s mother and sister were faithfully and courageously present, quietly weeping and brushing away tears.

A publication ban prohibits the reporting of any evidence procured during the preliminary hearings scheduled to run until November 9th, 2012.

October 2, 2012

Printer Debacle Stumps Defense Counsel

Day six of preliminary hearings to determine whether or not enough evidence exists in the grisly murder of Wesley Hallam to necessitate a trial kicked off this morning with a somewhat lengthy diatribe from the defense counsels who are experiencing a printing conundrum. Less than ideal printer access for the out of town defense, Ms. Morrow (Ronald Mitchell), and Ms. Giuseppe (Eric Mearow), has created challenges in preparing for court proceedings. The consequence of this quandary was a very lengthy morning break followed by a generous lunch respite to allow defense counsel to scurry up and down Queen Street in an attempt to resolve the printer fiasco.

The emotional drain into day two of interrogation was evident upon the face of perhaps the youngest witness involved in the evidentiary hearings. Very shortly into questioning, the youth dropped his head upon his arms which were folded and resting atop the front of the witness box. After he recovered his composure he lifted his wet face and refocused is red eyes upon Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson. Throughout the morning’s questioning he often requested ‘a minute’ to hold his breath, sip his water and draw on his nerve before continuing on with the gruelling questioning.

Questioning of the fourth witness continued through to the end of the day and will resume tomorrow morning. It is expected that the fifth witness will be called to testify during Wednesday’s proceedings.

The atmosphere in the prisoner box remained good-humoured though visible attempts to conceal grinning were observed. Mearow, though appearing amused once in a while, spent most of the seven hour inquiry balancing on the back legs of his chair and pulling strands of his goatee between his lips with his eyes focused on the empty wall straight ahead.

Ronald Mitchell, 27, Eric Mearow, 27, and Dylan Jocko, 28, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s, 29, remains. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Wesley Hallam was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

Six officers from SSM Police Emergency Services Unit secured the interior of courtroom and officers safeguarded entries into the courtroom on Tuesday.

The hearing before Ontario Court Justice Kristine Bignell resumes Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. Preliminary hearings into the murder of Wesley Hallam are scheduled to November 9th, 2012.

A publication ban prohibits the reporting of any evidence procured during the preliminary hearings.

October 3, 2012

Children Traumatized: The Death of Wesley Hallam

The fifth witness, still a boy, took the stand today to testify in the preliminary trail of Wesley Hallam’s murder.

Assistant Crown Attorney, Kelly Weeks, noting the boy’s distress suggested a break to allow the young witness to catch his breath and restore his strength. The ten minute respite additionally provided an opportunity for Wesley Hallam’s mother and sister to steel their composure in preparation for the painful testimony to come.

The young witness often broke into tears. The Crown completed their examination and the witness provided his responses with a cracked voice and through his broken sobs. The Defense Counsel, appreciating the obvious distress of the youth, deferred their cross-examination until tomorrow morning.

Ronald Mitchell, 27, Eric Mearow, 27, and Dylan Jocko, 28, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s, 29, remains. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Wesley Hallam was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East- just at the top of Gore St.

Wellington St. East and Gore St. fall within division two on city maps. This downtown division is marked by Pim Street on the East, Huron St. on the West, St. Mary’s River on the South and Wellington St. on the North. Compared to the remaining five divisions, geographically this area is relatively small.

In a 13- month period from January 1st, 2011 to February, 2012 police services received 7,273 callouts in this division that included: 4 homicides; 21 sexual assaults; 157 assaults; 34 assaults causing bodily harm/or with a weapon; 4 assaults of a police officer; 164 break-ins; 483 thefts under $5,000; 36 fraud; 191 mischief; 251 bail violations/breach of probation/court absences; 16 arsons; 262 domestic disturbances; and 257 noise complaints.

Increased rates of crime in this area may be attributed to high vacancy rates in the downtown core and more businesses re-locating to the north end of the city. Moreover, elevated crime rates in this neglected end of town can certainly be linked to a vibrant drug culture that flourishes among the abandoned buildings and higher occurrences of poverty in the area. A local effort that spans multiple sectors and agencies can produce the urgent salve that allows for the beginning of healing for an entire community. However, as of yet, no one local decision maker or agency has stepped forward to take this lead.

The preliminary hearing before Ontario Court Justice Kristine Bignell resumes Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. Preliminary hearings into the murder of Wesley Hallam are scheduled to November 9th, 2012.

October 11, 2012

Preliminary Trial, Week Three: The Murder of Wesley Hallam

At the end of the third week of witness testimonies, the preliminary hearing into the horrific murder of Wesley Hallam, 29 yrs., approaches the halfway point in the seven week trial anticipated to conclude on November 9th, 2012. The macabre beheading and dismemberment of the young man was the first of four homicides committed in Sault Ste. Marie during 2011, all occurring within the downtown district (Division 2).

Often observed grinning behind their hands or quite candidly over the past weeks, the prisoners presented a slightly more somber demeanor on Thursday. Ronald Mitchell, 27, Eric Mearow, 27, and Dylan Jocko, 28, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s remains. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered at the bottom of an embankment running the length of Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011.

Security in the courtroom and outside of the courtroom remains beefed up with over half a dozen officers from the Emergency Services Unit on guard. As well, all members of the public are screened for metals and purses/bags are thoroughly searched.

The Defense and Crown have been meticulous in divining out every last point in testimonies and exploring every angle on its side, upside down and inside out. Every detail is wrung out until it has nothing left to give. It is no wonder that every so often both counsels become a little exasperated with one another.

Clad in black and her dark hair pulled back into a tight knot, Anik Morrow, counsel for the defense, is a petite woman with huge presence. While questioning a witness today she needed to ask the individual to repeat their responses several times. Upon having to do this for a ninth time Ms. Morrow apologized to the witness and without skipping a beat and shifting her body slightly right, indicated assistant Crown, Mike Varpio, as cause for her auditory distress.

Varpio, a formidable figure, certainly possessing the potential to be an intimidating presence at the end of a shadowy alleyway, was enthusiastically pounding out his notes on his laptop just inches away from the podium from which Ms. Morrow was delivering her questioning. Upon receiving this admonishment, Varpio flung his body back into his chair and threw his arms up, with the palms of his hands open and facing forward- obviously guilty of gratuitous tippity-tappating on a keyboard.

Yet somehow, and in spite of having to bide out the frustrating legal minutiae and endure the distressing details surrounding the dreadful killing of their loved one, Wesley’s mother and sister have not missed a day in court. Their silent and strong presence is a testament to the enduring love they will always have for a son and a brother whose life was extinguished too soon, too tragically.

October 26 2012

Week Five: Hallam Preliminary Hearing

Week five of Hallam preliminary hearings before Ontario Court Justice Kristine Bignell wrapped up on Thursday. Defence and Crown spent the week fine combing through the testimony provided by six witnesses. The outcome will determine if enough evidence exists to go to trial.

Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson is assisted by Michael Varpio and Kelly Weeks. Counsel for the defence are Jennifer Penman representing Eric Mearow, Anik Morrow representing Ronald Mitchell, and local defence Bruce Wilson representing Dylan Jocko.

Mearow, 27 yrs., Mitchell, 27 yrs., and Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s, 29 yrs., remains.

Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered tossed over an embankment along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Wesley Hallam was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East- just at the top of Gore St.

Also charged with accessory after the fact are Melissa Elkin, 28 yrs., Jaclyn MacIntyre, 21 yrs., and Kayla Elie, 20 yrs. Additionally Elkin has been charged with interfering with a dead body and Elie with obstructing police. Elie is the only female not in custody.

Amplified police presence in the courtroom and around the courthouse has been ongoing during the entirety of the trial. Throughout the weeks the distressing matter of the hearing has evoked tears in the witness stand and from individuals in the courtroom.

The preliminary trial will resume Monday, October 29th at 9:30 a.m. The hearings are open to the public. A publication ban on the reporting of evidence is in effect.

October 30, 2012

Wrapped Up: Hallam’s Preliminary Hearing Resumes January 2013

After four weeks of witness testimony and one week of debate between the Crown and Defense counsel which released a myriad of emotions from witnesses, loved ones and community, the preliminary hearing into the brutal demise of Wesley Hallam has been put over until January 18th, 2013. The trial which had been scheduled to run seven weeks has been forwarded into the New Year and is responsive of the need to reschedule due to the unforeseeable circumstance of illness befalling Ontario Court Justice Kristine Bignell.

Ronald Mitchell, 27, Eric Mearow, 27, and Dylan Jocko, 28, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s, 29, remains. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Wesley Hallam was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

Wellington St. East and Gore St. fall within Division Two on city maps. This Downtown Division is marked by Pim Street on the East, Huron St. on the West, St. Mary’s River on the South and Wellington St. on the North. Compared to the remaining five divisions, geographically this area is relatively small.

According to statistics provided by Sault Ste. Marie Police Services and in their ongoing effort to work collaboratively as well as transparently with various institutions, the data indicates that within a 13- month period from January 1st, 2011 to February, 2012 police services received 7,273 callouts in Division Two alone which included: 4 homicides; 21 sexual assaults; 157 assaults; 34 assaults causing bodily harm/or with a weapon; 4 assaults of a police officer; 164 break-ins; 483 thefts under $5,000; 36 fraud; 191 mischief; 251 bail violations/breach of probation/court absences; 16 arsons; 262 domestic disturbances; and 257 noise complaints. The Sault Ste. Marie Police encourages collaboration among multiple and cross-sector agencies to address the socioeconomic factors that lead to these startling facts. These figures demonstrate the urgent need for a dedicated effort across all professional and service related agencies.

Increased rates of crime in this area may be attributed to high vacancy rates in the downtown core and more businesses re-locating to the north end of the city. Moreover, elevated crime rates in this neglected end of town can certainly be linked to a vibrant drug culture that flourishes among the abandoned buildings and higher occurrences of poverty in the area. A local effort that spans multiple sectors and agencies can produce the urgent salve that allows for the beginning of healing for an entire community. However, as of yet, no one local decision maker or agency has stepped forward to take this lead.

Over the past several weeks, the three co-accused have good-naturedly bided their time in the prisoner box. Witnesses and those supporting those on the witness stand as well as members of the community have often been reduced to tears. Wesley’s mother and sister have held steadfast, as they endured the graphic variations of testimony as well as the type casted opinion about their loved one from the community at large.

The trial resuming January 18th, 2013 is open to the public.

January 9, 2013

Preliminary Trial for Hallam Murder Case Rescheduled Again

The preliminary hearing for Wesley Hallam’s murder has been rescheduled again. With two weeks remaining in the hearing Ontario Court Justice Kristine Bignell took a medical leave at the end of October. The hearing was scheduled to resume, January 8th, but Bignell is still on medical leave.

Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley’s remains. Wesley’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. City police say that he was killed January 7th or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

Jaclyn MacIntyre, 21 yrs., old has been charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder and remains in custody. Kayla Elie, 20 yrs., has also been charged as being an accessory after the fact to murder but was released on bail July 2011.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with the above as well as indecently interfering with a dead body. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

This further delay is difficult for Wesley’s mother, Sandra and sister, Shannon. Yesterday marked the second anniversary of Wesley’s vicious murder. Sandra and Shannon have not been able to move beyond the horrific death of their loved one. The constant reliving of the gruesome details through the legal process and not having been able to lay Wesley to rest tears at their heart every day.

Counsel and Justice Martin Lambert will make a decision today regarding how to move forward the remainder of the hearing.

January 15, 2013

Wesley Hallam Murder Trial Resumes

Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni will be presiding over the Hallam murder trial in Sault Ste. Marie. Buttazzoni replaces Ontario Court Justice Kristine Bignell who needed to step down due to health concerns. Week seven of the Hallam preliminary trial resumed on January 15th, 2013, after a two month break. The court heard testimony today from the seventh witness.

Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley Hallam’s remains. The murder victim’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. City police say that he was killed January 7th or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

During witness testimony, Wesley’s mother, Sandra, was overcome by grief and fled the courtroom to gather her composure. Throughout the preliminary hearing, family and friends have formed a protective shield around Sandra and Wesley’s sister, Shannon. Sandra returned later and took her seat next to her daughter’s side.

Meanwhile, in the prisoner box, the three co-accused cheerfully wiled away the hours chuckling, making silly faces at one another and giving over to an occasional guffaw of laughter.

It was Mitchell’s good luck to find a pen on a table that was sitting flush to the prisoner box. He spent the better part of the morning flopped partially out of the box doodling on a scrap piece of paper. Every so often he refreshed himself with a glass of water.

Jocko was prone to solitary bouts of giggling. Often he would look up with a wide smile on his face and his head would oscillate from one side of the courtroom to the other. Mearow other than participating in playful bantering during breaks was expressionless. He sat as usual, rocking in his chair, and though his signature long goatee was gone, he still twirled something unseen in his fingers and chewed on what could only be an imaginary strand of whiskers.

The preliminary trial resumes tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. and will continue to January 24th, 2013. Justice Buttazzoni will make a final decision based on preliminary testimony on January 28th, 2013. This decision will determine if there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial by jury.

January 22, 2013

Week Eight: Hallam Preliminary Hearing Plods Ahead

Today is day three in the eighth week of the Hallam murder preliminary hearing. Originally scheduled to wrap up before Christmas, the hearing has now been extended into April. The hearing was slated to run from October into November but unforeseen bumps have derailed anticipated timelines.

Earlier this January, Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni replaced Kristine Bignell who stepped down due to health concerns. Buttazzoni has brought himself quickly up to speed regarding the details of testimony already provided throughout this hearing.

Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley Hallam’s remains. The murder victim’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. City police say that he was killed January 7th or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

The proceedings in the courtroom during the seventh and eighth weeks of the hearing have provoked a more somber atmosphere in the prisoner box. Mearow remains expressionless as usual however, the past two weeks has produced a grave demeanor from Mitchell. This leaves Jocko with no one left to play with in the sandbox, somewhat dampening his usually sunny disposition.

Wesley’s mother, Sandra, and sister, Shannon, have struggled with a tsunami of emotions these last two weeks. Over the past several days, mother and daughter decided together to continue their vigilant support for Wes by waiting in the hall outside the courtroom.

Over the course of the hearing both Sandra and Shannon have been grateful for the efforts extended by local police services. Courtroom security is as beefed up as it is beefy. About seven officers from Sault Ste. Marie’s Emergency Services Unit are on guard and escorting the prisoners throughout the day. Security in the courthouse and just outside the courtroom has also been padded with extra guards and officers.

The hearing resumes this morning at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom 1.

January 28, 2013

The Obedient Women: One Sentenced in Hallam Murder

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation into the murder of Wesley Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction.

Ontario Court Justice Robert Villeneuve sentenced MacIntyre to one-day, time served (572 days in custody) and 12 months probation.

It was alleged that MacIntyre assisted as ordered, the three co-accused Mearow, Mitchell and Jocko in cleaning up the evidence left behind after the gory murder of Wesley. Her vehicle was also used to move evidence out of the house.

A trail of blood travelled down the upstairs hallway and led to the bathroom where Wesley’s body was tossed into the tub. Such was the excessive loss of blood that it soaked through the floor, seeping through the ceiling and splattering on to the kitchen stove below, spilling over the range and on to the floor.

With all three women charged in the Hallam murder and gruesome dismemberment now enjoying life on the outside, the family of Wesley is distraught and questioning the fruits of justice. Sandra Hallam, Wesley’s mother, has grown weary of the ‘lenient forgiveness of the courts’.

With her eyes, swollen and purple from crying after MacIntyre’s sentence she agonized, “I’m so tired of this. My son was murdered and his body was brutalized. Not one person tried to stop it. Not one person went forward to the police. Thieves and extortionists get more time than these girls. The judge said that they had to move on to concentrate on the boys accused. Jaclyn just sat there smiling. She wasn’t showing any remorse. I’m so tired of all of this.”

And to twist the knife, the Hallam family was approached by Toronto Crown attorney, Paul McDermott, who imparted some legalese wisdom. Shannon, sister of Wesley, struggled to take in his parting words. “He (McDermott) told us that Jacklyn did too much time. He said she did more time than she should have and that if this was Toronto she wouldn’t have even been charged. This was just a horrible day for us.”

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

Kayla Elie, 20 yrs., has also been charged as being an accessory after the fact to murder and obstruction of justice. She was released on bail July 2011 and is currently on house arrest as she awaits sentencing.

Wesley Hallam, 29 yrs. old, was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. In April 2011, Sault Ste. Marie Police concluded their search of a garbage dump in Dafter Michigan, just south of the Sault Michigan/ Sault Ontario border. Parts of Wesley’s dismembered body were recovered at that site.

Ronald Mitchell, Eric Mearow, and Dylan Jocko, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s remains. A preliminary hearing into each accused’s alleged involvement in the gruesome murder, decapitation and dismemberment of Wesley Hallam has been scheduled into April 2013.

January 30, 2013

Hallam Murder Hearing: The Slow Wheels Of Justice

Week nine of the Hallam murder preliminary hearing resumed Monday, January 28th. The nine non-consecutive weeks of the hearing have been a rollercoaster of emotions for all involved in the court proceedings.

Wesley Hallam, 29 yrs. old, was murdered January 7/8th 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge, close to Cold Water Creek, along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. In March 2011, Sault Ste. Marie Police concluded their search of a garbage dump in Dafter Michigan, just south of the Sault Michigan/ Sault Ontario border. Parts of Wesley’s dismembered body were recovered at that site.

Ronald Mitchell, Eric Mearow, and Dylan Jocko, have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Hallam’s remains. A preliminary hearing into each accused’s alleged involvement in the gruesome murder, decapitation and dismemberment of Wesley Hallam has been scheduled into April 2013.

Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson, is assisted by Assistant Crown Attorney Kelly Weeks in the prosecution of this case. Michael Varpio assisted the Crown on this matter until his appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice in December 2012.

Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni is presiding over the preliminary hearing. He replaced Kristine Bignell in January 2013. Justice Bignell needed to step down due to unexpected health concerns.

Anik Morrow, representing Ron Mitchell, hails from Toronto. She is not a newcomer to the Sault courts and has previously defended locally accused individuals. Ariel Herscovitch, an associate of Derstine Penman in Toronto, has been assisting Jennifer Penman, counsel for Eric Mearow, throughout the preliminary hearing. Bruce Willson, of Willson Carter in Sault Ste. Marie, is serving as defense for Dylan Jocko.

In the past two weeks the atmosphere in the prisoner box has become less cheerful. The most notable change in behaviour is demonstrated by Mitchell. Recently he became tearful throughout the court proceedings and his outward presentation has since become more sombre. Mearow maintains his status quo, expressing little or no emotion as the court conducts business. Jocko, the liveliest of the trio, continues to attempt to engage his compatriots with silliness. The lack of reciprocity has produced a slightly more subdued Jocko.

The family of Wesley Hallam appears emotionally drained after two years without closure and from the drawn out process of the preliminary ‘hell’. The hearing has been scheduled into May 2013. Tomorrow, January 31st, 2013, the preliminary hearing will wrap up for the month and will resume on April 8th, 2013.

Compounding the family’s grief is the recent sentencing of one of the three women charged in Wesley’s brutal murder and dismemberment.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation into the murder of Wesley Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

Kayla Elie, 20 yrs., has also been charged as being an accessory after the fact to murder and obstruction of justice. She was released on bail July 2011 and is currently on house arrest as she awaits sentencing.

*****

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

~ Helen Keller

 

March 8, 2013

The Murder Trials of Wesley Hallam: Kayla Eli Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice

Kayla Eli, 20 yrs. old, entered a plea of guilty before Ontario Court Justice, Nathalie Gregson, to willfully obstructing justice by concealing evidence from police and providing false information to the police in the investigation of Wesley Hallams murder on January 8th, 2011.

Eli had been couch surfing at the Wellington St. residence since November 2010, cleaning the house in exchange for room and board. On the evening of Wesley’s murder, Eli was one of a dozen or more individuals in attendance at a house party at the residence.

She had been sitting downstairs when Wesley’s fight for life began. Eli only became aware that he had in fact been killed a few hours later when she went upstairs and discovered an excessive amount of blood on the bathroom floor.

While or during Wesley’s dismemberment a male instructed her to go out to buy cleaning supplies. When she returned to the house that night she was instructed to clean up the blood that flowed across the bathroom floor.

When this was done she left the house that night, frightened and not wanting to return. However, Eli did return the next day and continued to assist with the destruction of evidence as instructed by a male in the house. She was ordered to break up the bathroom tile and was given a lesson in how to do this with a hammer.

On January 10th, 2011 Eli assisted in the packing of a van so that various items could be removed from the house for the purposes of concealing the items from the police.

Defence lawyer, Andrew Perrin, from North Bay and Toronto assistant Crown Attorney, Paul McDermott, agreed to a sentence date on June 21st, 2013 at 2 p.m. Over the next two months Perrin will prepare a pre-sentence report as well as a *Gladue report. A Gladue report may or may not influence the judge’s sentencing of Eli.

Already sentenced in conjunction with Wesley’s murder and primarily the chilling events that occurred that evening in January, are Melissa Elkin and Jaclyn MacIntyre.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation into the murder of Wesley Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre plead guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction.

As well, Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley Hallam’s remains. The murder victim’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011.

*****

*A Gladue report is a pre-sentence report that can be requested by the Canadian courts when considering the sentencing of an Aboriginal person. Section 718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code “mandatorily requires sentencing judges to consider all available sanctions other than imprisonment and to pay particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders…it is remedial in nature and is designed to ameliorate the serious problem of overrepresentation of aboriginal people in prisons, and to encourage sentencing judges to have recourse to a restorative approach to sentencing.” Section 718.2 (e) “directs judges to undertake the sentencing of such offenders individually, but also differently, because the circumstances of aboriginal people are unique. In sentencing an aboriginal offender, the judge must consider: (a) the unique systemic or background factors which may have played a part in bringing the particular aboriginal offender before the courts; and (b) the types of sentencing procedures and sanctions which may be appropriate in the circumstances for the offender because of his or her particular aboriginal heritage or connection.

March 14, 2013

Wesley Hallam’s Murder: Preliminary Hearing Process Ongoing

The preliminary hearing into the murder of Wesley Hallam resumed briefly yesterday to hear expert witness testimony. The process concluded in the afternoon and the preliminary trial resumes again on April 8th, 2013.

A publication ban has been ordered for the duration of the preliminary hearing.

A preliminary hearing sets out to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial before a Justice of the Superior Court. According to the Canadian Legal Information Institute the purpose of such an inquiry is “to protect the accused from a needless, and indeed, improper, exposure to public trial where the enforcement agency is not in possession of evidence to warrant the continuation of the process.”

However, for the loved ones of a murder victim, the drawn out process of a preliminary hearing is torture. It has been over two years since Wesley’s brutal murder and the family is unable to move through the grieving process. Ongoing involvement in investigations, the preliminary hearing, long periods of adjournment and still awaiting a trial date before a Justice of Superior Court to hear more of what they have been hearing during the preliminary hearing, keeps the family caught up in a never ending nightmare where they are forced to re-live the horrific details of Wesley’s murder over and over again.

Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley Hallam’s remains. The murder victim’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011.

Earlier this January, Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni replaced Kristine Bignell who stepped down due to health concerns. Buttazzoni has brought himself quickly up to speed regarding the details of testimony already provided throughout this hearing.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation into the murder of Wesley Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre plead guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

Kayla Elie, 20 yrs., has also been charged as being an accessory after the fact to murder and obstruction of justice. She was released on bail July 2011 and ordered to remain on house arrest. Elie is scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

May 6, 2013

The Murder of Wesley Hallam: Pre-trial Closing Arguments

In the back row of the prisoner box Ron Mitchell and Dylan Jocko amused themselves, sometimes bending over at the waist to conceal their giggles and flushed faces, seated behind Eric Mearow who was sitting in the front row of the box rocking in his chair and biting his nails, as the Crown presented their closing arguments in the pre-trial of the three co-accused who have been charged with first degree murder and indecently interfering with the dead body of Wesley Hallam.

Sandra Hallam, mother of Wesley, was accompanied by a small support network of family and friends. Sandra and Wes’s sister, Shannon, have relived the heartbreaking and endless retelling of Wes’s final moments and have watched, in bewilderment, as some of those charged in Wesley’s grisly murder enjoy the passing of the seasons, bingo, dining and a good sale at the local mega franchise.

Sandra was guided by loving hands out of the courtroom today. Listening to the details of the closing arguments presented by the Crown was too much for Wesley’s mother to endure. As the heavy oak courtroom doors closed behind her, Sandra’s agonizing wails of grief permeated through the walls and hallways of the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse.

Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs., have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley Hallam’s remains. The murder victim’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation into the murder of Wesley Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre plead guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

Kayla Elie, 20 yrs., has also been charged as being an accessory after the fact to murder and obstruction of justice. She was released on bail July 2011 and ordered to remain on house arrest. Elie is scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, May 19th, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

The Crown completed their closing arguments today. Court resumes tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. Counsel for the defence will begin presenting their closing arguments at that time.

May 9, 2013

The Murder of Wesley Hallam: Closing Arguments Almost Concluded

There was some heat between the defence and bench on Thursday as closing arguments were heard in the preliminary trial of Ronald Mitchell, 27 yrs., Eric Mearow, 27 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 28 yrs. The trio have been charged with first degree murder and being a party to indignity to the remains of Wesley Hallam.

Closing submissions were to conclude this week however unanticipated delays, such as technical difficulties inside the courtroom and questions raised about legal processes have extended the preliminary trial yet again.

There have been numerous postponements throughout the pre-trial that was originally scheduled to wrap up in November 2013. The most significant delay occurred when Ontario Court Justice, Kristine Bignell, needed to step down due to health concerns. Bignell was replaced in January by Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni.

Anik Morrow, representing Ron Mitchell, hails from Toronto. She is not a newcomer to the Sault courts and has previously defended locally accused individuals. Jennifer Penman, an associate of Derstine Penman is counsel for Eric Mearow. Bruce Willson, of Willson Carter in Sault Ste. Marie, is serving as defense for Dylan Jocko. Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson, is assisted by Assistant Crown Attorney, Kelly Weeks, in the prosecution of this case.

Wesley’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. City police say that he was killed January 7th or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

Counsel will reconvene on Monday, May 27th at 9:30 a.m. at the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse.

May 30, 2013

The Murder of Wesley Hallam: Preliminary Hearing Spans Four Seasons

The preliminary hearing for three men accused of first degree murder and being a party to committing indignity to the remains of a human body resumed Thursday. Accused are Ronald Mitchell, 29 yrs., Eric Mearow, 29 yrs., and Dylan Jocko, 30 yrs.

Wesley Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. City police say that he was killed January 7th or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East.

At the time of his death Wesley was 29 yrs. old and father to his then 5 year old son.

*****

Due to numerous delays the pre-trial, originally scheduled to wrap up by December 2012, has dragged across nearly four seasons. On Thursday the Crown and defence argued the submission of certain evidence.

The tension amid defence counsels Anik Morrow and Bruce Wilson was palatable as it has been most of the preliminary trial. The fractious interaction between the pair has at least served as an amusing, albeit brief, distraction for family and friends who have endured the past eight months in the courtroom.

Morrow represents Ron Mitchell and Bruce Wilson is counsel for Dylan Jocko. Jennifer Penman represents Eric Mearow. Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson, is assisted by Assistant Crown Attorney, Kelly Weeks, in the prosecution of this case.

As par for course the three co-accused were in high spirits as they wiled away their time in the prisoner box. However, towards the end of the very long day, Mitchell’s eyes darted back and forth from his lawyer to Ontario Court Justice, Andrew Buttazzoni, as he listened to Morrow wrap up her submissions for the preliminary trial.

*****

Three women were also arrested, charged and sentenced in connection to the grisly killing and dismemberment of Wesley.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation into the murder of Wesley Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre plead guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

Kayla Elie, 20 yrs., has also been charged as being an accessory after the fact to murder and obstruction of justice. She was released on bail July 2011 and ordered to remain on house arrest. Elie is scheduled for sentencing on the first day of summer- Friday, June 21st, 2013 at 2 p.m.

*****

Over the course of Thursday’s wrangling’s, Wesley’s mom and sister, Sandra and Shannon respectively, appeared overwhelmed and distressed. Sandra would wipe away tears and Shannon would close her eyes and throw her head back. Eventually they both left halfway through the afternoon portion of submissions.

The wear and tear on these two ladies has been relentless. Over the past two years and four months the, family has had their wounds picked at and gouged over and over again. Still waiting for justice and still waiting to finally lay their loved one to rest, Sandra and Shannon go through the motions of life and wait to wake up from their nightmare.

*****

Closing submissions from the defence resumes and should conclude Friday, May 31st, 2013. Court begins at 9:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

A publication ban has been ordered over the duration of the preliminary hearing.

June 21, 2013

The Murder of Wesley Hallam: Eli Gets Nine Months in Community for Completing Her ‘Chores’

Today, two years after her arrest, twenty-year old Kayla Eli was sentenced for her involvement in the brutal murder and dismemberment of Wesley Hallam. Eli has been on bail since July 28th, 2011.

Just before 3 p.m. Ontario Court Justice, Nathalie Gregson read out that the Court was imposing a 9 month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

*****

On January 19th, 2013 Kayla Eli entered a plea of guilty before Ontario Court Justice, Nathalie Gregson, to willfully obstructing justice from January 7th, 2011 to June 1st 2011 by concealing evidence from police and providing false information to the police in the investigation of Wesley Hallams murder on January 7th, 2011.

Eli had been couch surfing at the Wellington St. residence since November 2010, cleaning the house in exchange for room and board. On the evening of Wesley’s murder, Eli was one of a dozen or more individuals in attendance at a house party at the residence.

She had been sitting downstairs when Wesley’s fight for life began. Eli only became aware that he had in fact been killed a few hours later when she went upstairs and discovered an excessive amount of blood on the bathroom floor.

While or during Wesley’s dismemberment a male instructed her to go out to buy cleaning supplies. When she returned to the house that night she was instructed to clean up the blood that flowed across the bathroom floor.

When this was done she left the house that night, frightened and not wanting to return. However, Eli did return the next day and continued to assist with the destruction of evidence as instructed by a male in the house. She was ordered to break up the bathroom tile and was given a lesson in how to do this with a hammer.

On January 10th, 2011 Eli assisted in the packing of a van so that various items could be removed from the house for the purposes of concealing the items from the police.

*****

Toronto Crown attorney, Paul McDermott, was the first to enter submissions.

“Her situation is different from the other two women charged in this case. Miss Eli found herself there that day for want of a place to sleep. She slept on the couch and did chores for room and board.

The most serious aspect of her behaviour wasn’t a ‘chore’ that she had been told to do by someone and was a part of the type of chore she did- cleaning up. It just so happens that she plead guilty and she knew, through Mr. Perrin’s assistance, that it was criminal. In my submission to this court it goes down to should Miss Eli go back to jail or should she get a conditional sentence. If she had never gone to jail the Crown’s submission would be that she should only go to jail but in light of the fact that she did spend 7 or 8 weeks in jail already that perhaps a very controlled conditional sentence should be appropriate.

The other important thing is that Miss Eli has been on good behaviour since being out on bail. The Court is neither bound by nor tethered to the sentences of the other two women received.

Insofar of the events themselves and I’ve repeated this in the other two sentencing’s Mr. Hallam’s family is following this with great interest. It’s an enormously tragic situation with horrific facts that the family has to face over and over again. Coming to the sentencing hearing does nothing to assuage or address the tremendous grief that they feel every day and some of the disillusionment with the criminal justice system. The Court should know the tremendous concern that the family has for this sentencing.”

*****

Wesley’s mom is sitting in the courtroom. She is wearing a white suit and looks quite lovely. She has already begun to cry. Her daughter Shannon reaches over to comfort her.

*****

After offering his condolences to the Hallam family, defence lawyer, Andrew Perrin, from North Bay, entered his submissions stating the following.

“There’s not a lot that I would like to disagree on with my friend or take away from the fact that it was a very incisive submission.

For what little what it may be worth to the Hallam family I would just like to explain some of the mitigating features. I think my friend’s characterization of sleeping there ‘for want of a place to live’ is a fair characterization. It’s not as if Kayla was there to be a party to these types of activities. On a regular basis she felt like a victim herself at the end of the day. It is quite clear that there was an element of fear attached to Miss Eli’s behaviour. Not with standing what happened to Mr. Hallam I’m trying to imagine what it would have been for her not to listen.

Which leads me to my next submission, she enters a plea with a dramaticly poignant set of tribal issues. I like how my friend characterized it- it was a ‘chore’ given to her. She was afraid and it was that that drove her actions.

She has been out on bail without incident. She has taken every effort to improve herself. What I especially agree on with my friend is the issues in this case are factually and legally different then her co-accused. I’m urging the honourable court to give her a conditional sentence.”

When Gregson asked the accused if she would like to add or say anything Eli declined.

*****

At this point Court breaks for 15 minutes so that Gregson can consider Crown and defence submissions before making her final judgement. The accused heads outside to smoke with family and friends. Sandra is sitting in a van weeping. Her body is trembling from head to toe. Family and friends try to comfort her. She is inconsolable.

*****

Back in the Courtroom Justice Gregson is ready to deliver her judgement. Informing her decision are also a pre-sentence report and a Gladue report.

Mitigating and aggravating factors as highlighted by Gregson’s summary of the two reports include that at 20 yrs. of age Eli is still consider a youthful offender. Gregson also quoted the reports that stated, “There is a prevalence of substance abuse, domestic abuse and unemployment on the reserve. Despite saying this her parents have been married for 30 yrs. and have maintained their sobriety for 18 yrs. Recently, their family home burnt down destroying all over their belongings and their pet perished.

She was attended counselling at Batchewana Health Centre and she has attended native traditional healings. She’s maintained her abstinence and has not violated her bail conditions. Miss Eli suffers from low self-esteem and anxiety. She now realizes that it was a mistake to leave home at 16 because she lacked maturity. Miss Eli has taken responsibility for her offence and shows remorse for her actions.”

Gregson decision to issue a 9 month conditional jail sentence to be served in the community was rationalized by and in the Honourable Justice’s judgement that Eli was not a danger to the community; was a youthful offender; was not involved in the murder; served some time in custody; experienced strict bail conditions and did not breach any terms; did enter a plea of guilt; no violence, no threats, no breaches of trust when obstructing; positive presentence report; support of family; amenable to rehabilitative programs; has abstained from substances and taken steps to improve her mental health; and she has expressed remorse for her actions. Finally, the accused is an aboriginal offender and Gladue factors apply to this accused.

Gregson delivers the sentence stating, “Therefore having considered the aggravating and mitigating factors, the principles of sentencing and submissions by Counsel I have concluded that a jail sentence is of course required of Miss Eli. I am satisfied however that society would not be put into danger if Miss Eli was to serve her sentence in the community given her background and mitigating factors that I just outlined. I will impose a nine month jail term to be served in the community on strict terms and conditions. This is in addition to the 58 days of pre-sentence custody that she has already served.”

Among several conditions of Eli’s sentence are to not associate with certain individuals, to not be in possession of illegal prescriptions, to not consume alcohol, to report to a supervisor and to abide by a 9 p.m. to a 6 a.m. curfew.

*****

Sandra left the courtroom and collapsed against the support of a hallway wall giving over to wails of grief and frustration.

August 12, 2013

Sault Ste. Marie House of Horror: Revitalizing Downtown West

On August 7th the Cleveland, Ohio house where three women were held and raped for over a decade was wiped off the face of the earth. Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 1, 000 years. As part of his plea bargain Castro forfeited his house to the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

In 2006 a group of like-minded decision makers came together in response to the US nationwide foreclosure crisis. Increasingly, homes were being abandoned and left to vandalism or to surrender to time’s erosion. The social crisis followed as empty houses became dark places that sheltered crime. The Cuyahoga Land Bank was established and legislated to deal with those sources.

The Cuyahoga Land Bank “strategically acquires properties, returns them to productive use, reduces blight, increases property values, support community goals and improves the quality of life for county residents.”

In an interview with LOAL2 Cuyahoga Land Bank president, Gus Frangos, stated, “When we came into the possession of the house we quickly demolished it being the monument to Hell that it was.” Frangos went on to say that the two properties next to the Castro home were also acquired as they were vagrant and tax delinquent.

“We’ll be demolishing those two houses as well. Our goal is to build a neighbourhood park on the cleared land.”

*****

In Sault Ste. Marie, on Landslide Rd., very near to Coldwater Creek, there is a little memorial site decorated with a white cross, flowers and solar lights. Often, Sandra Hallam visits the spot where her son’s body was discovered over two years ago. Unable to lay her boy to rest, Sandra has found some modicum of comfort at the place where his body last laid.

Maintenance work along Old Garden River Rd. and a portion of Landslide Road has eradicated Sandra’s place of sanctuary. She is devastated. However, the 30 Wellington East residence where 29 yr. old Wesley Hallam was beheaded and cut into pieces remains intact, nearly sitting at the top of Gore St.

*****

So what’s to be done about 30 Wellington St. East? In Robert Abrams opinion- nothing.

Robert Abrams is the proprietor of the rental property where Wesley was murdered. And in his own way he is one of the indirect victims of this brutal murder. Robert invested bucks and time into restoring the older home on Wellington prior to renting it out to tenants back in 2010. The original tenants abdicated the premise and left it in Eric Mearow’s possession. Mearow is one of three co-accused in Wesley’s murder.

As terrible of a reminder of the gruesome murder that the house on Wellington is, it is also a source of supplemental income for Robert. “I’m retired and I have the smallest of pensions. I’ve got a $1600 total pension. That’s all I get and I worked for over thirty years in Canada. That’s my Canada pension and my old age pension. I’ve got to struggle for every mortal thing I have.”

Though he is not considering selling the place at this time he admits that he could be amenable to a fair offer of purchase. However, putting the house on the market is futile. Each time the home’s address is punched in to an on-line search engine two and a half years of articles about what happened on his property appear in the search feed.

Robert has been silent about his situation and is very guarded in speaking to external sources about how he has been affected by the events that transpired on his property. “It’s hard on me. I’m no spring chicken you know. It’s hard on me. I just give in. There’s nothing I can do about anything. It’s been a hard country for me is Canada. Ah well.”

*****

For Wesley’s sister Shannon, the house on Wellington St. is a gruesome reminder of her brother’s murder. “I take long loops around town to avoid it but I’ve been in a car with someone else who was driving and they don’t think anything of going past the house. I have to cover my eyes. It makes me sick to my stomach. It’s just a burden to know it’s still there.”

Shannon also confided that she doesn’t visit the place on Landslide Rd. where her brother’s body was dumped. “For me he’s not there. His soul left at that house.”

As painful as a reminder the house is for Shannon and her family she does not bear any ill feeling towards the property owner. “I do feel bad for him. He didn’t ask for this.”

An impressive proposal from Blueforest Ventures through Riversedge Development, is submitting a plan to create a beautiful heritage site along the St. Mary’s River at the bottom of Gore St. The plan calls for a collaboration of parties and improvements that would encompass the entire western district of the downtown including a redevelopment of Gore Street.

As the community teeters on the cusp of these positive changes hopefully there will be some consideration given to the macabre blight that sits at the top of Gore St. Commenting on the troubling matter of 30 Wellington St. East, Frangos stated, “What would need to happen is that the City and the stakeholders in the community would need to collaborate and offer the land owner a fair price and explain why it’s is good for the community. In other words you need some co-operation.”

September 12, 2013

The Murder of Wesley Hallam: Pre-trial Ruling Anticipated On Tuesday

Thirty-two months ago the decapitated and dismembered body of Wesley Hallam was discovered in a deep ridge, close to Cold Water Creek, along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. His sister, Shannon, identified what was left of her younger brother by the distinctive tattoo on his arm.

On Tuesday, September 17th, 2013, the year-long pretrial of his murder will finally conclude. At that time Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni will determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial, the nature of charges and who will or will not be answering to those charges.

A publication ban for this pre-trial hearing is in effect.

*****

Hallam was murdered on the seventh or eighth of January 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East. Wesley’s family choose to mark the eighth of that month as the anniversary of his murder and perhaps, because in their mind, he was still alive for most of the hours of Friday, January 7th, 2011.

Ronald Mitchell, Eric Mearow, and Dylan Jocko were charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with Wesley’s remains.

A significant interruption in the pre-trial was presented when Ontario Court Justice, Kristine Bignell, was required to step down from the hearing due to health reasons. In January 2013, Ontario Court Justice, Andrew Buttazzoni, took the bench to preside over the hearing.

Anik Morrow, representing Mitchell, hails from Toronto. She is not a newcomer to the Sault courts and has previously defended locally accused individuals. Jennifer Penman, an associate of Derstine Penman is counsel for Mearow. Bruce Willson, of Willson Carter in Sault Ste. Marie, is serving as defense for Jocko. Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson, is assisted by Assistant Crown Attorney, Kelly Weeks, in the prosecution of this case. Michael Varpio also assisted the Crown until his appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice in December 2012.

*****

Three women were also arrested, charged and sentenced in connection to the killing and dismemberment of Wesley. Each woman was tried and sentenced individually.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation of the murder of Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre plead guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction. Ontario Court Justice Robert Villeneuve sentenced her to one-day, time served, (572 days in custody) and 12 months probation.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

On January 19th, 2013 Kayla Eli entered a plea of guilty before Ontario Court Justice, Nathalie Gregson, to willfully obstructing justice by concealing evidence from police and providing false information to the police in the investigation of Wesley Hallam’s death. This past June, Gregson imposed a nine month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

*****

Wesley’s murder at 30 Wellington St. East was just one of four murders that occurred in 2011. Wellington St. East and Gore St. fall within Division Two on city maps. This Downtown Division is marked by Pim Street on the East, Huron St. on the West, St. Mary’s River on the South and Wellington St. on the North. Compared to the remaining five divisions, geographically this area is relatively small.

According to statistics provided by Sault Ste. Marie Police Services and in their ongoing effort to work collaboratively as well as transparently with various institutions, the data indicates that within a 13- month period from January 1st, 2011 to February, 2012 police services received 7,273 callouts in Division Two alone which included: 4 homicides; 21 sexual assaults; 157 assaults; 34 assaults causing bodily harm/or with a weapon; 4 assaults of a police officer; 164 break-ins; 483 thefts under $5,000; 36 fraud; 191 mischief; 251 bail violations/breach of probation/court absences; 16 arsons; 262 domestic disturbances; and 257 noise complaints.

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Services have actively encouraged collaboration among multiple and cross-sector agencies to address the socioeconomic factors that lead to these startling facts. Though these figures are two years old the information underlines the urgent need for a dedicated effort across all professional and service related agencies.

*****

When his name was released through the media, people on blog sites and public forums scrutinized Wesley Hallam’s life to the last detail. Comments from posters like ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ spewed amok. As the two year anniversary of his death approached this past January, Sandra and Shannon were ready to share the intimate details of the son and brother that they remembered and loved.

Being stuck in a judicial limbo for over two and a half years has placed tremendous physical and emotional strain on Hallam’s family.

The drawn out process of the preliminary hearing has been torturous. Ongoing involvement in investigations; long periods of adjournment; listening to evidence; and awaiting the judge’s decision regarding if and who will stand trial and on what charges, keeps the family caught up in a never ending nightmare. They are forced to re-live the horrific details of Wesley’s murder over and over again.

In five days the judge will offer a ruling on the evidence argued in the pre-trial and determine how the charges against Mearow, Mitchell and Jocko will play out. The judgement will certainly bring a closure to the pre-trial but for Sandra and Shannon the suffering is far from over.

September 16, 2013

The Hallams and the community will have to wait another six weeks to hear Judge Buttazzoni’s ruling in the preliminary hearing of evidence in the Crown Attorney’s case against Ronald Mitchell, Eric Mearow and Dylan Jocko. The hearing is scheduled to resume on October 28th.

September 17, 2013

Mearow, Mitchell and Jocko: Six More Weeks Until Judge Decides

The preliminary hearing that was scheduled to conclude in the Crown’s case against Eric Mearow, Ronald Mitchell and Dylan Jocko has been held over until October 28th at 2 pm. The three co-accused were arrested in 2011 and charged with murder and indignity to a dead body.

Wesley Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge, close to Cold Water Creek, along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. In March 2011, Sault Ste. Marie Police concluded their search of a garbage dump in Dafter Michigan, just south of the Sault Michigan/ Sault Ontario border. Parts of Wesley’s dismembered body were recovered at that site.

On Friday of last week all Counsel received information from the trial coordinator that stated Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni was not in a position to complete his decision due to illness next week.

The three co-accused appeared via video remand in sequence. Mearow looked somewhat agitated as he swayed back and forth, occasionally swinging his arms. Mitchell was quite subdued as did Jocko.

Defence Counsel, Ariel Herscovitch, stated, “All three have been in custody for slightly more than two years and we are eager to get to this decision quickly. We are agreeable to the 28th date but would have liked it earlier. We would have been available any time before that date and would have traveled to any jurisdiction for this.”

May 12, 2014

The Killing of Wesley Hallam: Defence Appeals First Degree Murder Charge

Defence counsel for Eric Mearow, Ron Mitchell and Dylan Jocko appeared in Superior Court today to appeal the October 28th, 2013, ruling by Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni that determined that there was enough evidence presented in the year-long preliminary hearing to commit the three co-accused on charges of first degree murder.

Anik Morrow; counsel for Mitchell, Ariel Herscovitch; associate of Derstine Penman, counsel for Mearow, and Bruce Wilson; counsel for Jocko appeared before Superior Court Justice M.G. Ellies to enter submissions. Crown Attorney, Bill Johnson, Assistant Crown Attorney Kelly Weeks and Toronto Crown Attorney, Paul McDermott were also present in the Sault Ste. Marie courtroom today.

A publication ban prohibits the reporting of any evidence heard at the inquiry.

In 2011, Mitchell, Mearow and Jocko were charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with the remains of Wesley Hallam. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Hallam was murdered January 7or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East. The three co-accused have remained in custody since their arrests over three years ago.

However, for three women charged in the death of Hallam the legal process is over for two of the charged and almost over for a third woman.

On January 28th, 2013, twenty-two year old Jaclyn MacIntyre was found guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the police investigation of the murder of Hallam. The charge of accessory to murder was dropped after MacIntyre plead guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction. Ontario Court Justice Robert Villeneuve sentenced her to one-day, time served, (572 days in custody) and 12 months probation.

Melissa Elkin, 29 yrs., was also charged with indecently interfering with a dead body and accessory to murder after the fact. In November 2012, police withdrew those charges when Elkin plead guilty to obstructing justice. Ontario Court Justice Nathalie Gregson was satisfied that Elkin had served a sufficient amount of time and released her back into the community- time served.

On January 19th, 2013 Kayla Eli entered a plea of guilty before Ontario Court Justice, Nathalie Gregson, to willfully obstructing justice by concealing evidence from police and providing false information to the police in the investigation of Wesley Hallam’s death. In June 2013, Gregson imposed a nine month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

The co-accused were not present in court today however, Hallam’s mother, sister and grandmother were. For the past three years Hallam’s family have been diligent and patient as they observe the wheels of justice continue to spin ever so slowly.

August 11, 2014

Murder Trial in Sight, Family Relieved

On Monday, August 11th, 2014 Superior Court Justice M.G. Ellies turned down an appeal submitted by defence counsel for Eric Mearow, Ron Mitchell and Dylan Jocko on May 12th 2014. The ruling of first degree murder for the three co-accused made by Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni on October 28th, 2013 will stand.

The Crown and defence will appear in Superior Court on August 27th to establish a date for pre-trial conference.

In 2011, Mitchell, Mearow and Jocko were charged with first degree murder and being a party to indecently interfering with the remains of Wesley Hallam. Hallam’s decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in a deep ridge along Landslide Road on January 11th, 2011. It has been determined that Hallam was murdered January 7or 8th, 2011 during a house party at 30 Wellington St. East. The three co-accused have remained in custody since their arrests over three years ago.

Neither the co-accused nor the family of Wesley Hallam appeared in court today. However, the sister of Wesley Hallam, Shannon Hallam, commented today that the family is grateful that after three and a half years a trial date is finally in sight.

“We’re very, very relieved with the ruling. It’s been a long and difficult time for our family. I know we have years left of this but we’re thankful that so many people in the community have been supportive of us while we try to get through this.”

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