The fourth and final sentence was handed down in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday for one of four youths charged in a fatal stabbing at the Millennium Library in December 2022.
The youth, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was 16 years old at the time of what the Crown described as a “four-on-one attack” that took the life of 28-year-old Tyree Cayer on Dec. 11, 2022.
On Tuesday, Judge Samuel Raposo handed down a sentence jointly recommended by the Crown and defence, sentencing the youth to 10.5 months in custody and another 12 months of conditional supervision. The youth was also given a five-year weapons ban and ordered to provide a DNA sample.
The youth was sentenced under the federal Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) program, which was introduced 20 years ago to provide specialized therapeutic programs and services for youth with mental health needs who are convicted of a serious violent offence.
Three other youths involved in the incident had already been sentenced in the case, including two who pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges. The other youth was charged with second-degree murder and received a seven year sentence, a maximum sentence for a youth.
After sitting through four separate sentencings, Tania Cayer, the victim’s mother, told reporters she was relieved the court proceedings were finally over.
“I’m exhausted, but I’m glad it’s done. It’s been a very, very hard year,” Cayer said. “The benefit of youth sentencing is it’s expedited, but your life is on hold while you’re waiting. So yeah, I’m glad it’s done.”
She says now she hopes to focus on remembering and honouring the person her son was. She remembers her son as a kind and caring individual who was a talented high school football player.
“I’m hoping that moving forward Tyree won’t be remembered as ‘that guy that got stabbed at the library’,” she said. “My son will be remembered as Tyree Cayer, number 33, Giants – Forever.”
In an agreed statement of facts that was previously under a publication ban, the court heard the encounter started on Dec. 11, 2022 in the entrance way of the Millennium Library in downtown Winnipeg. Video footage obtained by the Winnipeg Police Service showed the group of four eventually chasing Cayer inside the library where they began attacking him.
The court heard Cayer was punched, kicked, and stomped on while on the ground, before one of the youth pulled out a knife and began stabbing Cayer.
The group fled, and the Crown stated a library worker who witnessed the attack rushed to help Cayer, and heard him saying “help me”. Cayer was taken to hospital, but died due to a stab wound that punctured his heart. Court also heard Cayer was stabbed in the thigh and buttocks, and received several blunt force injuries to his head and upper body.
Winnipeg police later arrested the suspects, and they accompanied the officers to locate the weapons — two knives that the suspects hid in a snowbank on Magnus Avenue.
The court also heard that the accused being sentenced Tuesday was the one who initiated the attack and was the last one to assault Cayer, but was not the one who stabbed him. Court also heard the youth had no prior convictions, but has been involved in a series of concerning incidents while in custody over the last year.
During victim impact statements, Tania Cayer held up photos of her son as a child, and then held up a small black item and said “this is Tyree now”.
Tania said her son was like Robin Hood, always wanting to help others. Court heard Cayer struggled with his mental health; he suffered from bipolar disorder and was unhoused at the time of his death. His mother says he found an opportunity to play sports through Youth For Christ, which kept him out of trouble until an injury stopped him from pursuing his football career further. She also said the death of her sister in 2017, Tyree’s aunt, had a major impact on Tyree as well.
Tania says despite Tyree’s own challenges, he was a selfless person who wanted to help others. She also addressed the accused directly in court.
“Had you met Tyree in different circumstances, he would have been your bro,” she said to the accused in court. “Had you waited an extra 10 minutes, you would have been having a smoke together.”
“I ask when you get out, please change your life,” she said, also addressing the accused’s family directly in court, urging them to show their support in the youth’s rehabilitative process.
“You need to do better by him. All of you,” she said.
Outside of court, Tania told reporters she is ready to move forward while honouring her son’s memory.
“I don’t know how to hate, I don’t know how to hate people. And if you were to ask me this a year ago, my answers would have been different,” she said.
“But I need to move forward. And so, in order to move forward, I’ve accepted, I can close this chapter, and now I can remember Tyree as number 33.”
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