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Vandewater found guilty of second-degree murder in stabbing death of cellmate


A Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench judge found Tyler Vandewater guilty today of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of his cellmate Christopher Van Camp in June 2017.

Justice Brian Scherman said he didn’t believe Vandewater acted in self-defence, citing the lack of injuries on Vandewater and the more than 60 wounds on Van Camp as a reason. 

Justice Scherman also said he didn’t believe Vandewater’s claim that Van Camp was paranoid, asked for his weapon back and threatened Vandewater. He said Van Camp didn’t create problems in prison and there was no evidence that he was prone to violence. 

Justice Scherman said Vandewater was the aggressor and in control and his attack on Van Camp was unexpected, unprovoked and done with such violence and force that he wasn’t able to protect himself.

Brain Pfefferle, Vandewater’s lawyer, said his client was disappointed with the verdict and they may appeal.

A trial was held Jan. 27 to Feb. 5 and Justice Brian Scherman had reserved his verdict until March 5.

An autopsy report revealed that Van Camp had 60 wounds on his body and he died as a result of loss of blood. 

According to Correctional Service Canada, at the time of Van Camp’s death he was serving a five-year, five-month and 12-day sentence since June 2012 for armed robbery. Vandewater was serving four years, 11 months and 11 days for aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, two counts of assaulting a peace officer and uttering threats. 

Van Camp’s mother, Lauren Laithwaite of Calgary, is suing CSC alleging that prison staff was negligent. She says under the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act her son shouldn’t have been arrested and returned to the maximum security unit at Saskatchewan Penitentiary for violating his parole after he overdosed. The Act is aimed at reducing fear of police attending overdose events and encourages people to save a life. The Act provides some legal protection for people seeking emergency help during an overdose. The Act allows for protection of people from charges such as possessing a controlled substance or breach of conditions regarding possession when on parole, conditional sentences or a pre-trial release. 

The Act became law May 4, 2017, three weeks before Van Camp overdosed. 

Vandewater will be sentenced on June 5, 2020. 

Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist

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