Dawson Creek resident Ryan Holden will spend the next two years behind bars after being convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a man outside a local pub in 2007.
Holden, 31, was sentenced to 10 years but will only be serving two years due to double credit for the last four years spent in jail.
Holden shot and killed 60-year-old Kelly Roney from his truck during daylight hours in the parking lot outside Rockwells Pub in June of 2007. Both men were involved in the drug trade.
Holden was facing a first-degree murder charge but a one-man, 11-women jury found him guilty of manslaughter on Apr. 6, 2011.
Around 20 people, including family and friends of Holden and Roney, gathered in the Dawson Creek courthouse on Friday to hear the judge deliver the sentence.
Both families waited anxiously and were offered tissues as most members visibly cried.
Holden’s mood was in stark contrast to the preliminary sentence hearing the day before as he sat quietly sipping water and checking the clock before the judge arrived.
Holden turned around to ask his mother, sisters and grandmother how they were doing but kept his gaze forward throughout the remainder of the session.
The day before, Holden had entered the courtroom smiling and in a hyper mood and was sure he would be walking free the next day due to time he had already served in jail.
“I’ll be strolling out of here this afternoon,” Holden said to the courtroom audience. “What you thinkin’? Time served? That’s what I’m thinking.
“It’s a perfect day for it. Short, sweet, everyone goes home.”
His family, who were gathered in seats behind him, were also in better spirits before the final sentencing day.
But on Friday, after the Crown and defense had given their statements the day before, members of his family were much more somber.
The judge said Holden’s action of shooting a man with a hunting rifle during daylight in a public place was “dangerous to the extreme.”
He said Holden’s insistence that he killed Roney because he had to defend himself was both “unreasonable and preposterous.”
After court was adjourned, Holden’s younger sister said the sentence was good considering the circumstances.
“I was hoping he would get out today because it’s been so long. I want him to be with his family,” she said.
But Roney’s niece said Holden’s sentence is far to light for someone who shot and killed her uncle.
“I wish he got more, but the problem lies with him getting manslaughter in the first place. I don’t get the system right now,” she said.
Both Roney’s niece and ex-wife think Holden should have been charged with first-degree murder.
Crown council said Holden shot Roney because he was influencing his ability to make money in the drug trade.
“He has so many other alternatives to resolving matters he had with Mr. Roney, yet he chose this reckless and ultimate fatal step,” said the Crown lawyer before she read victim impact statements before the judge.
The defense painted Holden as an intelligent and normal young man who made some impulsive choices because he believed he had no other choice.
They said Holden won’t return to the drug trade, something the Crown isn’t so sure of.
The judge agreed with the Crown that Holden holds no remorse for killing Roney, who Holden says was a danger to his life.
A psychiatric report indicated Holden began suffering from paranoid behaviour in 2008 after he killed Roney.
The judge is concerned Holden could react dangerously to circumstances if he becomes paranoid about his safety again.
The judge sentenced Holden to two years probation after he is released from jail. He must notify the court if he changes his name or moves or if he changes his job or occupation.
He also has a lifetime ban on owning firearms and must provide a DNA sample.
After seeing Roney’s vehicle outside Rockwell’s Pub in 2007, Holden went home to get a scope-equipped hunting rifle.
Holden spotted Roney and a friend leaving the pub after watching from his truck for around half an hour.
Holden fired one shot, hitting Roney in the middle of his body. Roney died instantly.
Holden then disposed of the weapon and left the area. He was arrested two months later in Ontario and has remained in custody since.
Holden, who was born and raised in Dawson Creek, graduated from high school and obtained a post-secondary diploma related to engineering before he became involved in the drug trade.