The shooter in a 2017 murder committed at a Nanaimo hotel has been handed down a life sentence with no chance of parole for 17 years.
Brandon Tyler Woody, 32, from Victoria, was initially charged with the first-degree murder of Andrew McLean, who was 34 when he was fatally shot at the Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel in April 19, 2017. However, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in February and was sentenced by Judge Paul Riley in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo on Wednesday afternoon.
Paul McMurray, Woody’s legal counsel, had argued that his client was coerced into shooting McLean as he was concerned about the safety of his wife. During the three-day sentencing hearing, evidence was presented where Woody claimed that while he had initially turned down money for the killing, the people who ordered the killing “didn’t take no for an answer,” and saying no again would mean they would go after his wife.
According to the statement of facts, Woody had been receiving directions via a burner phone and Frank Dubenski, Crown counsel, said there was nothing in text messages that suggested a threat and furthermore, there was no evidence from his spouse that Woody alerted her to a threat, something Riley agreed with.
Brandon Tyler Woody, 32, receives life with no parole for 17 years, for 2017 killing at #nanaimo hotel.
— Karl Yu (@KarlYuBulletin) March 27, 2019
The content in Woody’s statement is too vague, Riley said, and was full of hearsay, assertions, conjecture and opinion to support applying that on a balance of probabilities, Woody was presented with a threat to the safety of his wife. Riley said he had concerns about the credibility of Woody’s account and couldn’t be satisfied that it was truthful or reliable.
The guilty plea meant a mandatory life sentence and while Dubenski sought parole ineligibility for 20 years, 17 was within the range. He stressed that Woody isn’t guaranteed parole and must apply and receive approval.
“That’s one thing some people don’t seem to understand,” said Dubenski. “Just a parole ineligibility period automatically means they’re released at that point, that is not true. At any time, if he breaches any conditions while on parole he’s brought back into custody and goes through a process of rigorous assessment to determine what his risk is.”
McMurray said Woody had been assaulted a number of times in custody and sought a recommendation to have his client incarcerated at the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, which would also allow access programming that would assist Woody. However, Riley said there are a lot of moving parts that need to be considered and suggested McMurray bring that up with correction officials.
Wanda Campbell, McLean’s mother, travelled from Alberta for sentencing and while she was satisfied about Woody’s 17-year parole ineligibility, she had harsh words her son’s killer.
“He can rot in hell. That’s all I got to say,” Campbell said. “I keep a lot in because I don’t like to break down in front of people.”
McMurray did not wish to comment.
Sentencing began Monday, when a trial by jury was originally scheduled to start.
Woody was stopped by RCMP in Duncan about an hour after the shooting and was arrested without incident.
Video footage entered into evidence showed a man, wearing a black balaclava, walk up behind McLean, raise a handgun and fire twice into his back. He fell to the floor and tried to cover his head with his hands as the shooter held the gun close to the McLean’s head and fired two more rounds before he ran from the hotel lobby.
McMurray provided information on Woody’s background, stating that he had been raised by a single mother, who was very ill and frequently in hospital, and his grandparents. His mother died when he was a young man, and struggled with depression since. McMurray also submitted letters of support, describing Woody as caring.
Woody had a previous conviction for armed robbery.
– with files from Chris Bush