WINNIPEG – A sentencing hearing for a Winnipeg man who pleaded guilty to murdering a teenager and stuffing his body in a garbage bin has been delayed.
The hearing for Nicholas Bell-Wright got underway Monday morning, but had to be adjourned to Jan. 22 because of a large number of victim impact statements.
The Crown said 96 statements were submitted and legislation prevents lawyers from making a determination about which ones to include.
The body of Cooper Nemeth was discovered in the bin a few days after he was last seen leaving a house party for his hockey team on Feb. 14, 2016.
Investigators said at the time that they believed the teen was killed somewhere else and his body moved to the bin on private property — not far from where the party was held.
Police also said they did not think there was any gang involvement, but that the killing was drug-related.
On Monday, court heard concerns that the number of victim impact statements could have a disproportionate effect on the outcome of sentencing. The Crown told court it needs time to figure out how to proceed.
Justice Glenn Joyal said he had never seen that many impact statements in a case. He also wondered why the issue wasn’t dealt with prior to the start of the hearing.
“Victim impact statements are an important conciliatory part of the process,” Joyal told Court of Queen’s Bench.
Bell-Wright’s lawyers told court they understand the Crown’s position and said that they, too, would need more than one day to review all of the victim impact statements.
Nemeth’s mother, Gaylene, said outside court that she was willing to wait because she believes all of the submissions should be heard.
The minimum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.
A memorial for Nemeth after he was found attracted hundreds of people. It was organized by the Bear Clan patrol, a group of volunteers who walk Winnipeg’s streets at night to promote safety and provide support to the inner city.
(CTV Winnipeg, The Canadian Press)