A sentencing hearing has wrapped up for two of the four people convicted in the death of Nature Duperron.
The 25-year-old mother of three was kidnapped in Edmonton, robbed, beaten repeatedly in a vehicle, forcibly fed and injected with fentanyl, and left to die in the woods near Hinton on April 7, 2019.
Her handcuffed body was found near Highway 16 on April 23, 2019, after witness Bret Desjarlais led police to the scene.
Grayson Eashappie and Kala Bajusz both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case last September.
A trial was held last October for Buddy Ray Underwood and Tyra Muskego.
At the conclusion of the trial, Underwood was found guilty of second-degree murder, forcible confinement, and kidnapping in Duperron’s death, and Muskego was found guilty of manslaughter, robbery, and forcible confinement.
Both Underwood and Muskego were initially charged with first-degree murder, but Justice R.A. Graesser ruled on Oct. 21 that the Crown did not prove the “planning and deliberation” necessary for those convictions.
The judge also concluded that while Muskego was “fully involved” and a “principal actor” in robbing and kidnapping Duperron, there was no proof that she participated in the killing, aside from holding the victim down during the drive to Hinton.
At a two-day sentencing hearing for Underwood and Muskego this week, court heard details from Gladue Reports for both individuals.
Underwood’s lawyer spoke at length about his client’s traumatic childhood, including violence and sexual abuse, and using methamphetamines with his family members as a teenager.
Muskego addressed the court through a written statement read by her lawyer.
“Nothing I say will make it hurt any less or turn back time. I live every day with the guilt and shame from my wrongdoings,” she wrote.
“When I replay everything in my head late at night or even during the day, I should have tried to stop it.”
The now 25-year-old said at the time of the killing she was struggling with addiction and feared for her own life during the attack, adding she is now sober and the mother of a young daughter.
“I take full responsibility for my actions for this nightmare,” Muskego said.Leaving my baby is the hardest thing I’ll have to do in my life.
“From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry, and I hope you can forgive me.”
Court also heard victim impact statements from Duperron’s sister, step-father and mother.
“There are still days that I lock myself in my bedroom to bawl while I think about the memories we have made and the memories we should have made in the future,” Duperron’s sister Summer Uchytil told the court through tears.
“Her youngest son still cries for her, and there’s nothing I can do or say to take his pain away.
“How do you explain to a child that he will never see his mommy again for the rest of his life?”
Duperron’s mother, Cheryl Uchytil, a Métis woman and member of the Bigstone Cree Nation, talked about the pain of learning the people who killed her daughter were also Indigenous.
“It’s like watching a genocide within our own nation,” she told the court.
She also talked about the bond she had with her daughter, even as Duperron struggled with her own addiction and mental health issues.
“There is a love so deep that death can’t touch,” she said. “And that’s the kind of love we had for each other.”
Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, and the Crown is asking for no parole eligibility for Underwood for 22 years.
Underwood’s lawyer asked the court for parole eligibility in 15 years.
The Crown is seeking a 15-year sentence for Muskego, while her lawyer argued for a five- to nine-year sentence.
Justice Graesser is expected to sentence the pair on Sept. 11.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Sean Amato
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