Update (October 12, 2012). . . Changes in the Ashlee Hyatt murder case mean the trail will not get underway for another week.
Jury selection and the murder trial were to begin on October 15. PeachlandNews.com has learned that from October 15 to 19, lawyers from both sides will be arguing before a judge as to the admissibility of evidence to the jury.
Selection of the jury is expected to get underway October 22 and possibly be concluded October 23. The trial should follow immediately thereafter.
by Dave Preston | September 20, 2012
As the sun goes down in the Okanagan Valley, Charrie Hyatt recaps the day for her daughter on Facebook and says goodnight. When the sun rises, Charrie types good morning and relays what’s in store for the day.
The ritual plays out as sure as the sun will rise; a mother staying in touch with her daughter over social media.
Charrie faithfully shares her day but her daughter Ashlee never responds. She can’t. She was murdered 25 months ago.
“So many people think that you have to leave your kid behind when they die,” said Charrie. “Every day I take her with me.”
When Ashlee was alive, communication was done primarily by texting or messages on Facebook.
“That’s the teenage way,” said Charrie. “She always asked, ‘What are you doing, what are you doing?’”
“So I tell her what I’m doing.”
Ashlee Hyatt was 16-years-old when she was murdered on June 2, 2010. She had gone to a friend’s house on San Clemente Avenue in Peachland — a place Charrie said her daughter had gone many times before.
“She went to her friend’s house and she didn’t come home,” said Charrie.
Accused in Ashlee’s murder is another 16-year-old girl who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Details of what happened the night Ashlee died are also not reportable.
In less than a month, the accused will go on trial at the Kelowna Law Courts building. Prosecutors have booked two weeks for the trial, which begins October 15.
“Some days it feels like it’s been a really long time and then some days it feels like it’s gone fast to justice,” said Charrie.
“I’m excited for trial,” she said. “I’m excited for justice and I’m excited for closure for Ashlee.”
Charrie believes closure cannot come for Ashlee, herself, her family or Ashlee’s friends until the trial is over and, hopefully for Charrie, a guilty verdict is read in court.
“It’s been my fight for two years for this to happen,” said Charrie.
Ashlee left behind siblings Brooklyn, now 13, 11-year-old Nick and six-year-old Sophia. Ten months after that fateful June day, Ashlee’s step brother was born and he was named Asher in memory of the big sister he would never know.
Telling the kids what happened to Ashlee was tough and continues to be to this day, according to Charrie.
“I really didn’t explain it because I didn’t understand it,” she said. “We kind of went on this journey together. We still can’t explain it.”
Charrie said she doesn’t expect to hear a reason from the accused during trial. “What reason could there be? There’s nothing that could justify what she did.”
When Charrie gets dressed in the morning, she picks up several buttons from the top of her dresser and attaches them to her clothes. They say, “Justice for Ashlee, 2012. I believe.”
“I believe there will be justice,” said Charrie.
The wound of Ashlee’s death has not healed, in part because of a string of hearings that have taken place, according to Charrie. The longest was a five-day preliminary hearing that contained many of the details of Ashlee’s death but that wasn’t what bothered Charrie the most.
“It was sitting in the same room as the girl who (allegedly) took my daughter’s life,” said Charrie. “Trying to figure out how she could do that.”
The accused murderer was granted bail and that eats at Ashlee’s mother.
“That is the worst feeling, ever,” said Charrie. “She gets to celebrate another birthday. She gets to spend another Christmas with her family.”
It’s been tough to figure out Canada’s justice system and the Youth Criminal Justice Act for Charrie, her family and Ashlee’s friends.
Allowing an accused murdered to be free until trial is “crazy” to Charrie, who knows that even if a guilty verdict is given, the accused can walk out of court until sentencing.
“How do you process that?”
Charrie has met the parents of other murdered teenagers. They rely on each other for support.
Ashlee’s friends contacted Sandra Martins-Toner, who contacted Charrie. They met and have become friends. Martins-Toner is the mother of Matthew Martins, who at 16 was beaten to death at a SkyTrain station in Surrey.
Charrie also met Doug Leslie, the father of 15-year-old Lauren, who was murdered on B.C.’s infamous Highway of Tears not too long ago.
Some of the group is lobbying through a victims rights advocate for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
It’s one day at a time for Charrie and her outlook is similar for the trial. “I’m going to sit there and just count down the days.”
One thing that has helped with all the days since Ashlee’s murder was the installation of a bench on Peachland’s Centennial Way with a dedication plaque to Ashlee.
Being close to where Ashlee’s life was taken is hard for Charrie but she loves visiting the bench.
“We have lunch there and supper,” said Charrie. “We spend a lot of time in Peachland.”
Charrie said some of Ashlee’s friends will go jogging early in the morning down Peachland’s waterfront, stop at the bench, pull out a camera and take a picture, which ends up on Facebook.
No doubt when a picture is posted, Charrie sends a message to Ashlee, telling her about the bench and the beautiful sunrise in Peachland.