Since being delivered the news of the potential early release of those who brutally murdered Wesley Hallam at the onset of 2011 in what is said to be the most heinous crime committed in Sault Ste. Marie, I have experienced a myriad of emotions. Shock, fear, anxiety, anger, grief, sadness, confusion, and uncertainty are just a few of the emotions that have directed my existence over the course of this past week, particularly since learning that the public defender’s office of our great city had accepted a plea bargain of Manslaughter instead of maintaining the First Degree Murder charges which originated 5.5 years ago. Nonetheless, along with those negative emotions I also had the opportunity to experience a short lived period of hope.
Feeling hopeful that justice would prevail came from the act of initiating and providing input to an on-line-petition that is addressed to the Attorney General as a form of legally and peacefully protesting what I perceive to be a gross perversion of justice. Rightfully so, the aforementioned petition entitled “Justice for Wesley Hallam and his Family” @change.org had generated 1600 supporters by the 24th hour. However, by the 4th day at the time of this writing the incoming show of support has slowed to a snail’s pace, and seems to have stalled between the 2300 and 2400 mark, with less than 100 signatures being received within the past 24 hours. Thus, the resurgence of hurt and frustration that I feel as a result of the apparent betrayal by the “pillars of society” that are put in place to protect us from injustices of this nature, is compounded by what I consider to be inadequate public support.
The fact that this petition has been circulated on the high profile social medium platform of fb where many individuals have in excess of a thousand people on their friends list leaves me in a baffled and befuddled state of mind where I am caused to wonder “what exactly does concern the people of this city?” This was no petty crime, light enough to be unworthy of public scrutiny or opinion. NO, the fact is that a man was brutally murdered in our city by men with violent and repeat offender statuses, who not only committed the act of murder, but also went on to defile the human remains without conscience. Because of this, the issue and all its gory details should be everyone’s concern, yet the majority of the community has paid no attention to this cause and its potential outcome.
The fact that people have the misguided notion that this situation has nothing to do with them because this kind of crime doesn’t happen in their neighborhoods is rather disheartening, and sickening at the same time. I am sorry to tell you folks that your ignorance in thinking that silence is the best response, in a matter as important as this, is just WRONG. The very worst thing you should do about something as important as this is nothing, because something can always be done about something, and if you don’t stand for something, then you stand for nothing.
As written in the petition should the honourable presiding judge accept a plea of manslaughter, he will be setting a very dangerous precedent for the future of the justice system. Though the justice system is far from perfect at this time, the structure itself is built upon the premise that honest people have rights and innocent people have the right to be protected from the perpetrators of atrocious crimes; such as the ones that took a man, father, and son from his family and friends who loved him. Let us not forget that this man’s remains have been held as evidence for 5.5 years awaiting a trial that was due to begin 2-3 months from now; however, the long awaited trial was thwarted by the acceptance of this plea bargain in April 2016, by 5 Crown Attorneys in a majority vote that was held in secrecy from the interested parties until one week ago. Namely, those interested parties are the victim’s family, friends and witnesses. What this means to the family is that their lives have been held in suspension for 5.5 years as they have awaited the time when justice would be served, and they could finally put the remains of their beloved to rest. My heart weeps for this family who has been severely betrayed by our justice system, as justice may never be served by the way things look at this point in time. Most disturbing to this fact is that these men were granted the rights and freedom to freely roam our streets despite their propensity to commit violent crimes like home invasions, etc.
Yet my heart also cries out for all of the innocent people who have suffered the repercussions from a crime of this magnitude. The families of the perpetrators are also on my mind, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those grammas and grandpas, mothers and fathers, aunties and uncles, sisters, brothers, and cousins who have also carried the weight of this crime on their shoulders. I understand that life is not easy for those of us who are at the bottom of the food chain, particularly for those of us who suffer the intergenerational trauma resulting from the Residential School system, the Sixties Scoop, and the dire ramifications of perpetual poverty. Yet, despite the harshness of these realities, I feel within my heart that for most of you, the weight of this crime is not something you would wish upon the shoulders of your worst enemy. For these reasons I share the sorrow that you too may feel as a result of this crime.
By the same token, this crime has resonated heavily upon the lives of several young people who will never view the world with the same innocence and trust again. Times have changed indeed, as my high school years were fun-filled, and the joy of socializing with my peers at household parties on Friday or Saturday nights made the chore of attending high school that much more pleasurable. However, the acts of these men on the night in question forever robbed these young people of the naturally existing faith in humanity that existed prior to this monstrous crime. In reality, young people do not go to house parties expecting to become the witnesses of something so incredibly disturbing. I know I never did.
Also, those who know me well will know and understand that I am a person who believes in second chances. I believe in the rights of the individual to pick himself up by the bootstraps so to speak and rectify the wrongs he or she has committed. That being said, I also believe in a defendant’s right to use jail time in a manner which reflects a sincere acceptance of responsibility for the crime committed. Yet, not one of these men has evidently accepted the responsibility for destroying the lives of countless numbers of people. Instead, these men have routinely sat in the courtroom laughing and joking amongst each other over a 5 year period; while many vulnerable witnesses provided testimonial evidence.
In closing, I would like to say that my ultimate purpose in writing this letter is to let the community know that I am deeply disturbed by the apparent willingness to stand by and silently watch as the Justice System in our City crumbles to the ground. If you do not care if Justice exists for yourself or your co-inhabitants of the city, then please care enough for the future generations of Saultites, because they will inevitably inherit what we the free thinking adult human beings fail to address in our time.
God Bless our Children.
~ by Rose, mother of young witness