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Victim's mother reacts to manslaughter plea: 'We are devastated'

Police chief to seek review of plea deal
Sandra Hallam, mother of homicide victim Wesley Hallam, and Robert Keetch, Sault Ste. Marie Police Services chief, at a media conference held after three men were convicted of manslaughter in Wesley Hallam's 2011 slaying, July 28, 2016. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Sandra Hallam, mother of homicide victim Wesley Hallam, issued a statement to the media at a press conference held at the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services building early Thursday evening.

Earlier in the day, in an emotional courtroom in Sault Ste. Marie, Ronald Mitchell, Dylan Jocko and Eric Mearow were each convicted of manslaughter in the 2011 slaying of her son.

It had been anticipated the trial would proceed on the original charges of murder, but the three men were allowed to plead guilty Thursday to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

"Today should be a happy day for my family, however we are devastated," Sandra Hallam told Thursday's press conference, attended by Hallam family members and friends.

"We should be happy that the persons responsible...have been convicted of the crime, but we are far from happy," Hallam said, thanking police for their work in the case.

"It is no reflection on them (the police) that an injustice has occurred today."

"I am horrified these three men will walk back into our community sometime soon," Hallam said.

"I would like to convey that we, as a Police Service, are as disappointed with today's outcome as is the Hallam family," said Robert Keetch, Sault Ste. Marie Police Services chief, who offered his condolences to the shocked family.

"What I'm asking is that consideration be given to an independent, third party review of the circumstances that led up to the plea arrangement and the agreed statements of fact which were presented before the courts," Keetch told reporters, while adding police will accept the court's decision made Thursday.

"We were not aware of any discussions regarding a proposed resolution or a reduction of charges for the Hallam homicide, nor did we have any input," Keetch said.

"I don't want to see what took place in this investigation replicated in the future and I think we can do that in an independent, third party review."

"I will make that suggestion that they (the Ontario Attorney-General's office) consider a review," Keetch said, adding such reviews "are not commonplace."

Keetch said there is "genuine concern and frustration" within the community over Thursday's decision.

Wesley Hallam's decapitated and dismembered remains were discovered near a Landslide Road creek January 11, 2011.

Mitchell received a sentence of 22 months, after allowance was made for time served. 

Mearow and Jocko both received two years less a day.

All three men had been in custody since they were arrested in early 2011.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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