The sentencing of Garrett Steven George, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in relation to the death of Destiny Rae Tom, is expected to occur next week, on Nov. 16, 2016.
Tom, who was 21 years old at the time, was found deceased outside of a residence in the Fort Fraser area in March 2013.
She was a resident of the Nadleh First Nations reserve and the daughter of Andy and Vivian Tom, who is now the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s Chief.
In an interview with Lakes District News, Vivian described George’s court appearances in Prince George two weeks ago as “very intense.”
“It was really heavy and dark,” she said.
The trial has revealed a history of abuse in George and Tom’s relationship. Vivian said her daughter had come to her in the past saying George had been abusive toward her. In fact, she said the RCMP was called “more than twice” after George had beaten her up.
Vivian said she tried to keep Tom away form George, but that George would stalk Tom and even threaten to kill himself if Tom didn’t come back to him.
Although they had an abusive relationship, Vivian said she was shocked when Tom died, and that she never suspected this could happen.
When Tom was found deceased, her body was badly beaten.
“The injuries she sustained were really heavy,” said Vivian. “They were really intense.”
Vivian described her daughter as a “sweet girl.”
“She was very shy, but when she was in class, she was outgoing; she wanted to become a nurse or a teacher; she was a very loving daughter, and helped people out as much as she could.”
Even though the trial hasn’t been easy on Vivian and her family, she said some good has come out of it.
“My husband never talked to me about how he feels about it [Tom’s death], and to hear him talk about how it has affected everyone [during trial], I was happy that he was able to express how he felt and show his feelings.”
George had been previously charged with second-degree murder, which means the culprit had an intent to kill out of impulse. He then pleaded guilty to manslaughter, which means the culprit killed the victim accidentally.
Vivian said the Wet’suwet’en community would prefer if he was convicted for second-degree murder.
“The community is having a hard time accepting that [change],” said Vivian.
During trial, George has expressed remorse for his actions and for the way he treated Tom during their relationship.
“I forgave him,” said Vivian. “But the Crown council told me I can forgive him, but they still have to do justice, and I was really happy when they said that.”