Warning: Graphic content.
For five and a half years the family of Wesley Hallam, witnesses to his murder and horrific dismemberment and investigating officers suffered a publication ban- in the best interest of judicial process, all in the hopes that justice would someday be meted out before a 12 member jury of peers. It never happened. Instead a handful of betters skirted the process and decided what would best serve the interests of justice, victims and the entire community.
Two weeks ago the family of Wesley Hallam and witnesses involved in the homicide investigation, learned that five Crown Attorneys took a secret vote about what to do with the lengthy and troublesome matter that was Wesley Hallam’s murder, decapitation and dismemberment.
Wesley Hallam, was killed on January 8th, 2011 at a house party on 30 Wellington East in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. His decapitated and dismembered body was discovered on January 11th, 2011, dumped in Cold Water Creek on Landslide Road. 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 where Wesley’s head and one foot were discovered. Today the whereabouts of his other foot and both hands remains a mystery. His body and parts, which have been held as evidence, will hopefully soon be returned to his family and laid to rest.
Mitchell, Mearow and Jocko were arrested within a short period of time following the gruesome acts and all were charged with first degree murder and indignity to a human body. On April 21st, 2016 John Luczak -director of Crown operations for the north region, Paul McDermott- Toronto Crown Attorney, Susan Stothart –Sudbury Crown Attorney, Dan Mitchell –Thunder Bay Crown Attorney and Kelly Weeks –Sault Ste. Marie Crown Attorney, cast a vote to accept the plea of manslaughter. Though the vote was not unanimous, the majority agreed that the plea should be accepted.
The community learned today via a press conference with Chief of Police Bob Keetch, that the information of the plea bargain only came to light because the three accused had been chattering away about the deal in the clink. Officers overheard the dialogue and raised the alarm bells. Keetch also articulated that had SSM Police not insisted that the Crown be forthcoming about the plea, the Hallam family and witnesses would have only had a few days notice about today’s plea and consequent sentencing. Keetch expressed disappointment that the Crown excluded the critical involvement of investigating officers prior to arriving to the plea bargain and is calling for a third party investigation of the process. The Sault Ste. Marie Crown Attorney office has been unwilling to comment, directing all queries to the Attorney General of Ontario’s spokesperson.
Outside of the courthouse about 75 people peacefully gathered to protest the Crown’s decision to settle all the way down from first degree murder to manslaughter. There were about 20 uniformed officers at the courthouse today- some monitoring the demonstration and others situated within the courtroom, though nobody knows how many plainclothes cops were floating around the halls of justice today.
Inside Courtroom 1, where perhaps the longest running preliminary hearing in the history of Canada was hosted, about 85 members of the community –including Wesley Hallam’s family, crammed along the church style pews to await Justice I.S. McMillan’s ruling on the plea deal -10 years for manslaughter, indignity to a dead body and attached terms.
Mitchell, Mearow and Jocko all plead guilty to the above. And the Crown’s reasoning for being so amenable to the plea? According to Sudbury Crown Attorney, Philip Zylberberg, there were “potential frailties” and “trial concerns”, the three accused didn’t possess the “mental capacity” the night of Hallam’s murder and butchering due to “provocation” and the accused’s “level of intoxication” that night (we’ll get to all of that soon). It should be noted that the arrests of the three men didn’t occur until days and weeks after the incident –long after their blood-alcohol and drug levels would be possible to determine during the party that evening in January.
Zylberberg read out an Agreed Statement of Facts that informed the plea struck between the defense and Crown. At a later date the Northern Hoot will publish the details of the preliminary hearing –including the details that didn’t make it into the statement of facts.
Zylberberg, occasionally pausing to awkwardly smile throughout the reading, provided: details of the party; that drugs and alcohol were plentiful; that Wesley nicked a knife from a buddies before heading to the tragic party that night; that witnesses observed Hallam, Mitchell and Mearow showing off their knives; that everyone headed upstairs to set up some lines of cocaine; that the word ‘goof’ (a slang for pedophile) was tossed around; a scuffle ensued; knives were drawn between Hallam and Mitchell; Hallam’s knife lost its’ blade; Jocko, Mitchell and Mearow teamed up against Hallam; and Mitchell delivered two stabs- one superficial and one slashing through Hallam’s jugular and carotid artery –the fatal blow.
What wasn’t in the Agreed Upon Statement of Facts was that Hallam didn’t just receive only 2 stabs to the neck by Mitchell, but after observers witnessed Hallam and Mitchell part to their respective corners, Mearow cashed in on Hallam’s vulnerable state. Hallam’s head, recovered in the Dafter, Michigan dump, revealed 8 stab wounds – the 2 cuts committed by Mitchell and 6 more cuts. There were two stabs to the right side of his head, two stab wounds to his forehead and two punctures to his face. Forensic evidence also showed that there were two distinct knives used in the attack on Wesley.
Additional Agreed Statements of Facts indicate that a dying Wesley Hallam was dragged to the bathroom and dumped into the bathtub where he died, receiving none of the help or mercy that he begged for. Mearow took control, ordered Mitchell to stand guard and when a regular blade wasn’t sufficient to hack off Wesley’s hand, Mearow gathered power tools from the basement and ordered Jocko to power Wesley’s head, feet and hands from his body while his blood was still hot. Women were ordered to clean up the mess. They were obedient. The men bagged up Wesley’s body parts and got rid of him. And that’s a wrap except for all of the ‘Disagreed’ Statement of Facts that you haven’t heard about -yet.
In their arguments for sentencing the defense emphasized that “the accused saved time, resources and emotional toll by admitting the events and taking responsibility.” The family is obviously devastated that this matter did not, and never will, go before a jury.
There were 6 victim impact statements prepared for today’s hearing. Five were read before the judge and one was submitted in writing. During the time of tonight’s publication two victim impact statements were gathered. Mother of Wesley and sister of Wesley have submitted their impact statements and are included at the end of this article. During the reading of all victim impact statements Mitchell bowed his head, Mearow looked straight ahead with his head up and Jocko bowed his head or cupped his chin. Following the reading of victim impact statements the judge issued his final verdict.
But prior to sentencing Mitchell, Mearow and Jocko, Justice McMillan asked of the accused had they anything to say to the Court? The question was first to Mitchell who stood up and replied, “I’d just like to say that I’m deeply sorry for the impact my action has had on the family …I’m not the man I was…. I just want to say that I’m really sorry.”
Next Mearow was asked the same question –do you have anything to say to the Court? Standing up, Mearow looked straight ahead. “No I don’t.” Many of the people in the courtroom groaned, muttered and rumbled.
Next to Jocko –the same question. “My lawyers told everything I have to say. Thank you,” he replied. A person in the courtroom shouted, “How about I’m sorry?”
While Justice I.S. McMillan could have modified the terms of the plea or rejected the plea all together as submitted by defense and Crown, he didn’t. McMillan did reserve his reasoning for sentencing until Friday morning but did deliver the final verdict just before 5 p.m. today.
Ronald Mitchell, including time served in custody -about five years, has been sentenced to an additional 22 months.
Both Jocko and Mearow, including time served in custody –about five years, have been sentenced to an additional two years less a day moving forward. Regarding Jocko and Mearow, Justice McMillan took into consideration Gladue factors.
Upon sentencing, courtroom 1 in the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse exploded.
“What a disgrace,” a firm voice from the crowd began and then a cacophony of outrage hit the courtroom ceiling.
A group of people stood up and pounded their hands together issuing guttural cries. And amongst the physical demonstration, rose rage, frustration and fear in one word statements and short phrases- all directed at the accused, present Crown attorneys- Kelly Weeks and Philip Zylberberg and the judge.
“Hope your kids are safe!”
“You should be ashamed!”
“F*ck this whole f*ck*n system.”
“What a joke Sault Ste. Marie!”
Wesley Hallam’s mother, Sandra Hallam, and sister, Shannon Hallam, wept on those God awful, butt numbing benches that they have sat upon for five and a half years waiting for a trial, waiting for justice, as the room cleared of the hysterical crowd and the court attempted to restore order. None was to be found. Sandra and Shannon were physically guided out of the courtroom, their anguished wails haunting the halls of the courtroom.
The mother of a young witness to Wesley’s murder stayed in her seat –pointing at the accused, the defense and the Crown wept, her voice rising, “Authority has spoken. Thank you for what you have done.”
“You will not come near our children. We will make sure of that,” said the father of a young witness. He stopped before the courtroom door and looked the three men who murdered and dismembered Wesley Hallam in the eye. A line up of people behind him waited.
Another women spoke loudly. “There is no honorable presiding judge in this house today.”
“We will protect our children from you,” said the man still standing in the courtroom doorway, completely stationary. “We’re the last defense and we will defend.”
Jocko grinned and shrugged. Mitchell turned his head and Mearow looked straight ahead.
I am Sandra Hallam, mother of the victim Wesley Hallam. On or about January 8, 2011 Wesley was brutally murdered, decapitated and dismembered and left like garbage in a dumpster. Words cannot express the pain and anguish that my family and myself feel, have endured since the murder of Wesley. They took his life with no regards to human being or the effect it has on others is unimaginable and unpardonable.
The loss of Wesley is beyond words. There will be no more birthdays, holidays or any other celebrations. I will never hear him say to me “I love you mom”, ever again. As a family, we are broken. How much compassion did the defendants have on Wesley when they decided to murder him?
Medication for post-traumatic stress disorder and sleeping pills are now a daily thing I have to take just to make it through a day.
Wesley’s son has been robbed of his father, Shannon has been robbed of her brother and my parents robbed of their grandson. And I have been robbed of ever seeing his smile, his gigantic laugh and all his bear hugs.
We are all heartbroken and always will be. It was been five and a half years since his death. They say time heals everything but it doesn’t. To the fortunate people who have never had to experience such an awful loss, it is 10,000 times the most emotional pain you can imagine. There will never be closure. There is no way to ever prepare yourself for a tragic loss like this. The very last day of his life I saw him in the morning, he went home, my mom made him sandwiches. He walked the dog and gave his grandfather a hug.
Then they came to pick him up. Later that evening he called to tell me he loved me. And that was the very last time we saw him or heard from him.
I don’t go out at all. To go to the Station Mall, I am in fear of who I might see or who I don’t know that was there. When my friends asked me to go anywhere I will say ‘yes’ and then I back out of everything.
At work I have meltdowns and have had to go home. I feel I am broken that I will never see him again. That this is not possible.
I am now on medication, antidepressants, sleeping pills and one to calm me down. In five and a half years I haven’t slept much. I have nightmares that wake me up and then I am afraid to go back to sleep. I have been through countless counseling but put a stop to it because unless you have been through this, you can’t help me.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD and depression. This is a long-term disability because I will never get over it. I have missed much time off work. We have six stages that you are allowed to get to, I’m now at stage five. I never had a sick day before this. I have insurance to cover my medication but I still have to pay.
I have used up for five and a half years of my vacation time to attend court and I have had to take LOA.
These three men are capable of offending again. I am not afraid for myself but for my family. I would be really afraid if my child was one of the many witnesses. I have watched these monsters for five and a half years sit in court with no remorse.
(This is a poem that Wesley sent to me once.)
If when you wake up in the morning,
And the hurting is so great,
You don’t want to get out of bed
And face a world of hate.
If everything in life goes wrong
And nothing you do seems right,
You just try a little harder
And soon you’ll see the light.
For every person who has put you down
And filled your life with pain,
You must strive to achieve greatness
And show them you can win.
For every disappointment,
For the times you are let down,
There will be a better moment
And your life will turn around.
Because everyone feels heartache
And everyone feels pain,
But only those who have true courage
Can get up and try again.
How to carry on, to live and survive after you have lost your only sibling and only uncle to your child in such inhumane conditions.
He died suffering in such a way; I can never forget what was done to him. This barbaric act is indescribable or inexcusable. No human being deserves such a death. To die for no reason whatsoever does make sense to me or anybody.
My brother was a loving, quiet shy little boy. Growing up he loved playing sports, hockey, football but his big love was boxing. That meant growing up watching all of the volumes of Rocky over and over again.
Wesley loved family. He was a “mama’s boy” and we spent every weekend going up to our grandparents house, where we were born and raised.
Wesley as a teen seemed to have lost his way and got in with the wrong crowd. There started his petty crimes and on and off stays in jail. I knew the whole time this was not the real Wes and prayed for change.
Wesley in his life to follow made some wrong choices and trusted in the wrong people. Even if he didn’t do the crime he would take the punishment and never let his so called “friends” down.
A month before he died he made a decision to change his life and moved down south to work and provide for his then five year old son.
The Wes of crime was not the Wes I know. He was a loving, loving brother who up until his last days always said, “I love you Shann” as he left, gave me a kiss on the cheek and gave me a Noggy (which is messing up my hair). What I wouldn’t give for one more Noggy!
He was the apple of my mom’s eye and always felt the need to protect us. In the last few years I was not allowed to date anyone unless my brother approved.
My son who is severely autistic and needs 24 hour around-the-clock care, loved him. My brother and son had a real special bond. I really miss that support from my brother. Owen, not understanding his uncle died, just looks at his pictures and I know he is wondering where his uncle is.
Wesley also had the greatest bond with his grandparents living in the apartment downstairs all to the end of his days. I know this has taken a toll on them, they have never been the same since. You would think in their 80’s they can enjoy the 60-something years they have been together but that are succumbed to the horror of what happened to their grandson.
Then there is Wesley’s only son, the five year old spitting image of Wes. He looked up to his dad and he was everything to Wes. Maybe a week before Wes died, Wes bought him a kids four wheeler and promised him to a Blue Jays game.
That Blue Jays’ game never happened because his dad’s life was cut short by three monsters. He now says his dad is in heaven. Being 10 he now knows how his dad died and this is a sham in itself.
Here are some things that have happened since the day my brother Wesley was gruesomely killed.
My life, once filled with many friends and family have diminished to zero friends and just my mother, grandparents and boyfriend in my life.
I have isolated myself in fear of seeing people involved. The feeling of always being talked about, looked at and for the simple fact I can no longer enjoy the good things in life and be happy and smile as I was grief ridden and put through years of pretrial motion and gruesome facts of how my brother died, in hopes to get to trial.
I could not relate or didn’t want to relate to anyone. The only thing I enjoyed was being a mother and my once a week grocery trip, that somehow always became upsetting anyways.
I did not and still don’t go out at night out of fear. Night is where my brother was killed. The fact of going out alone as of today is filled with anxiety even before I walk out the door.
My relationship with my mother is very strong because we lean on each other for support. I’m also in fear of losing my mother because the loss of her child is too much for her to take.
I made some poor decisions in personal relationships (abusive) because my head was clouded and I just did not want to be alone. My brother always protected me from this. I was on my own now.
Like I said before, relationships with friends diminished to zero. I had an autistic boy who needed me all the time and very little support. I was too drained and grief stricken to follow up with any friendships.
Since my brother’s murder I have been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression and sleeping problems.
My immunity system has been weakened by stress and lack of sleep. I suffer from many ailments, stomach, headaches and worst of all lung disease. Stress plays a big part in my breathing, if I’m too stressed out or tired that means a trip to the hospital in need of a treatment to breath, another puffer of pneumonia and the worst stages- being place on oxygen.
I wish I could go to work and have some kind of social belonging somewhere but that would be neat to impossible. This case that has went on for the last five and a half years has made me a different person.
I pretty much lost faith in anything good because nothing good came from this case. Nothing. I am angry, sad, so filled with anxiety and emotions I want to scream.
It seems that the offenders have much more rights than the victim and victim’s family. We have been ignored by the Crown and Victims Witness. The only source we get some information through is the detectives assigned to the case.
This has ruined my life, period. I have lost faith in anything good. The simple fact of being silenced for five and a half years is a crime within itself. I wish for nobody to have to go through the nightmare this has been for my family and myself.
I pray for peace for my family someday and to finally lay my brother to rest, which should have been done a very long time ago.
Rest in peace Wesley, I will always love and cherish our moments together.
I am fearful of what will or could happen when the offenders get out. I fear for my son, he is nonverbal and his mind is that of a young child, he does not know danger.
I already cut his classes to half days. He would not know what to do and can be harmed easily. I am in fear for myself and I also take care of my young 13 yr. old stepchild.
Also, they have proven to be a threat, ordering a hit in jail where a guy almost lost his life. This was evidence in the pre-trial. I already moved to a small community outside of here. I would not know what else to do.