By Cam Fortems, Kamloops This Week
A Salmon Arm woman who was the target in a Mr. Big sting four years after a schoolyard killing made a surprise plea to second-degree murder Monday.
The plea bargain between the defence and Crown was made on the eve of the beginning of the trial.
The woman, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because she was 17 when Tyler Myers was killed eight years ago, was originally charged with first-degree murder following an extensive undercover RCMP Mr. Big operation in which officers pose as gangsters in a bid to get suspects to admit to crimes.
The defence in the trial earlier this year of her co-accused, a former boyfriend who also cannot be named, portrayed the woman as the operating mind behind a plan to kill Myers. The three — two of them high school students — were involved in a love triangle.
He was found guilty by a jury in June of first-degree murder.
As part of the plea bargain, the now-24-year-old woman agreed to be sentenced as an adult on Dec. 5.
Crown prosecutor Bill Hilderman said the recommendation that will be put before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan is a life sentence with seven years served before she is eligible for parole. The sentence is mandatory because she was under 18 when she committed the murder.
A large number of Myers’ family was present Monday at what was supposed to be the beginning of a six-week trial.
Tyler’s mother, Barbara Myers, said she wanted to hear details of what happened when her son was killed on Nov. 21, 2008. She was unable to watch the trial of the co-accused because she was slated to appear as a witness.
Myers said she is satisfied with the outcome after speaking with prosecutor Hilderman.
Defence lawyers earlier filed an application to have any conviction thrown out based on a Supreme Court of Canada decision in July that determined cases in a superior court must come to trial in a maximum of 30 months. That Charter application was set to be argued following the woman’s trial.
Hilderman said outside the courtroom he could not comment on the specifics of why the Crown opted to agree to the plea to the lesser charge.
The accused were charged four years after the slaying, at the end of a months-long police undercover operation that culminated in confessions from both suspects.
The investigation targeted the female accused and began in the summer of 2012.
In the trial of the man who was found guilty of first-degree murder, he testified he skipped school with the female accused and a friend. Jurors heard that’s when the plan was hatched.
That evening, the male accused hid out with a borrowed rifle in a stand of trees in the schoolyard of Bastion Elementary in Salmon Arm. The female accused, he said, lured Myers to the area to be shot.
“She called me and said, ‘Are you ready? We’re coming down,’” the male accused told Mounties, describing the female accused as “the mastermind.”
The male accused testified he shot his romantic rival once from his hideout in the trees before emerging and firing two more shots — both, he said, at the request of the female accused.
“He was just on the ground and she said, ‘Shoot him in the head.’
“She looked at me and said, ‘You did good, babe,’ and gave me a kiss.”
Both accused were arrested in December 2012. An agreed statement of facts is expected to be read in court at the woman’s Dec. 5 sentence hearing.
The male found guilty of first-degree murder will be sentenced on Jan. 23