One Day (Plus Time Served) for Murder

by Matttbastard

As Liss mentioned earlier, my coblogger, Isabel, points to this rocks glass full of of straight-no-chaser WHAT. THE. FUCK:
The day after he admitted killing a woman and dumping her body on a rural road, Wayne Ryczak was a free man.

Judge Stephen Glithero sentenced the 55-year-old St. Catharines [Ontario, Canada] construction worker to one day in jail Thursday for the death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.

The one-day sentence is in addition to time Ryczak already served in jail since his March 5, 2007 arrest - time the judge said was equivalent to 30 months.

"Devastated, we're devastated," Beck's mother, Alice Dort, said from her home in Nova Scotia shortly after a police detective broke the news by phone. "This is just so unbelievable."

"There's no justice. None whatsoever. I'm just so disgusted."


"She was a very loving person," Dort said of her daughter. "She had a heart of gold. Her lifestyle, to me right now, this whole thing has judged her on her lifestyle, not as a human being."
And what was Beck's "lifestyle"? Yep, she was a sex worker.

To continue:
Beck's partially naked body was found on the side of Seventh Avenue in Vineland around 6:30 a.m. on March 4, 2007. The cause of death was strangulation.

Ryczak was arrested the next day, after his neighbour told police she saw him struggling to stuff a woman's body into his hatchback.

He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, but guilty to manslaughter on Wednesday in Superior Court in St. Catharines.

In a rare move, Ryczak took the stand after his plea and claimed he acted in self-defence when he grabbed Beck by the throat.

Ryczak testified Beck attacked him with a brass lamp around 3:30 a.m. when he entered his trailer at 241 St. Paul St. West. He said he didn't know who she was, although she may have looked familiar.

It was during the struggle that Ryczak said he pushed Beck back and she collapsed on the couch, court heard. When he checked her nose, she wasn't breathing.

He panicked and loaded her into his vehicle.

Court heard Ryczak was known to use the services of prostitutes, but there was no evidence he engaged Beck, a sex-trade worker, in that capacity. He also used drugs, sometimes for days or weeks, but there was no evidence he took drugs that day.


...Ryczak's lawyer, Geoffrey Hadfield, argued what happened after Beck died was separate from the offence itself. Beck was unlawfully in Ryczak's home, probably with criminal intent, and it was in that context, he argued, that the death occurred.
Yes, it's quite obvious she was asking for it, and Ryczak's actions were entirely justified.

Wait—it gets better:
In sentencing Ryczak, the judge said he took into account Ryczak's remorse and the guilty plea at an early stage in the court process. The issue of self-defence could have been brought up at a trial, which would have left the Crown with the burden of proof. There could also be issues raised over the cause of death because of potentially lethal doses of cocaine in Beck's system, Glithero said.
Yes, she would have likely died anyway—Ryczak merely expedited the process.
Glithero noted Ryczak's mother said he was a good son and his boss testified he was a valued employee. Ryczak contributed to the community by serving on the city committee and was a former cub scout leader and minor league lacrosse coach, the judge said.

"In my opinion, he presents as a person with many admirable qualities," said Glithero, adding he has values of family, community and hard work.
Uh-huh—nothing screams "model citizen" quite like a drug abusing murderer who conspired to cover up his lethal actions and only came clean because he got caught in the act.

Alas, Isabel already has a fauxgressive in comments arguing that, based solely on the evidence presented (ie, pretending the fact that Stephine Beck was a sex worker didn't have a measurable impact on both the sentencing and the coverage) this sentence was fair.

A thought experiment: say a man ends up struggling with a middle-class HR generalist, one thing leads to another and—whoopsie!—he accidentally strangles her. So, he panics, decides that the only logical thing to do next is to pull up her shirt, pull down her pants, and dispose of the evidence. Then, after an eye witness notices him stuffing her dead body into the trunk of his car, he's arrested, but argues that it was all in self-defence (She was on drugs, trying to steal something! You know those HR generalists! The cocaine in her bloodstream would have killed her anyway, regardless of whether she was strangled her to death!). And the only reason he decided to cover up his actions, instead of immediately calling authorities, was because he was SO SCARED.

Does anyone honestly believe that the judge would have readily accepted a tale so convoluted even a staff writer for Matlock wouldn't have the gumption to throw it out during a brainstorming session? Would that same judge have rewarded Wayne Ryczak with a 1 day sentence (claiming that the time spent was the equivalent to 30 months, the official length of Ryczak's sentence) if Stephine Beck had been an HR generalist, and not a sex worker?

I seriously wonder.

Look, I’m a prison abolitionist; I believe the prison industrial complex and adversarial justice system are unfair, counterproductive, racist, classist, etc. and require radical transformation. But all that's beside the point (and is not one I wish to address atm). Within the strictures of the current Ontario criminal justice system, the leniency of this sentence is unbelievable—or all-too-believable, since Stephine Beck was a disposable victim.

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