Skylar Prockner was sixteen years old when he brutally murdered an ex girlfriend. According to court documents Skylar Prockner was still upset that the victim had ended a relationship with him and he proceeded to stalk the girl months before the murder. On the day of the murder Skylar Prockner attacked the teenager and stabbed her repeatedly causing her death. Due to the violent nature of the crime this teen killer would be charged as an adult and once convicted he would be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for ten years.
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As a result of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s decision, released on Wednesday, 20-year-old Skylar Prockner will continue serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
“The sentencing judge’s assessment and weighing of the evidence is entitled to deference,” read the decision penned by Chief Justice Robert Richards. “She did nothing in relation to this issue that would warrant or justify the intervention of this Court.”
Justices Ralph Ottenbreit and Peter Whitmore made the decision unanimous.
Skylar Prockner pleaded guilty to the January 2015 murder, but wasn’t as ready to accept the penalty sought by the Crown. At a sentencing hearing before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Jennifer Pritchard, the Crown argued nothing but an adult sentence was appropriate given the brutal nature of the crime and the events leading to and surrounding the fatal stabbing.
Skylar Prockner, through defence counsel, urged Pritchard to consider a youth sentence, suggesting the Youth Criminal Justice Act’s maximum 10 years would hold him accountable.
But Pritchard returned almost exactly one year ago with her decision, siding with the Crown’s position on sentence. Because he was under 18 at the time of the offence, Skylar Prockner can apply for parole after 10 years.
Skylar Prockner appealed and, in April, argued his case before the province’s highest court.
His appeal was based, in essence, on two claims: that Pritchard did not properly assess and weigh evidence relevant to sentencing; and that she was wrong in her handling of a defence application to quash a provincial determination that a youth sentence involving Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) was unavailable.
In deciding to leave Pritchard’s decision as is, the appeal court restated the facts surrounding the homicide — events that sprang from Leflar’s breakup with Prockner in May 2014.
Skylar Prockner engaged in stalking and other disturbing behaviour, including a plot dubbed Project Zombify targeting a boy Leflar was dating.
While Skylar Prockner had talked about killing or harming Leflar, it wasn’t until Jan. 12, 2015 that he decided to carry it out, having seen Facebook photos of Leflar with a new boyfriend. He recruited a friend — who, like Prockner, was 16 at the time — and the two entered Leflar’s Regina home once they saw she was back from school. There, Prockner stabbed her to death.
The pair made attempts to conceal their roles in the crime, but were soon arrested.
The second teen ultimately received a youth sentence, despite an attempt by the Crown to have him sentenced as an adult.
The appeal court also considered the evidence of several experts who testified at Skylar Prockner’s sentencing hearing, describing his risk to reoffend, his mental health and personal struggles, and his attitude toward the crime, among other areas. Some deemed Prockner a risk to reoffend should his issues not be addressed.
In the decision, Richards pointed out it’s not the court’s role to reweigh evidence; rather, he said, findings of fact by a sentencing judge “may be overturned only if they involve palpable and overriding error.”
That was not the case here, the court found. Further, the court found no error with Pritchard’s weighing of evidence such as Project Zombify, nor did it find any reason to overturn the sentence based on details such as Pritchard’s preference of a Crown expert’s opinion over that offered by a defence expert.
In relation to the IRCS portion of the appeal, the court found Pritchard had not erred when she chose not to decide on the application. Richards wrote the judge deemed only an adult sentence appropriate, even if IRCS was available.
“Even supposing the Provincial Director’s determination about the availability … was ultimately reversed, any such reversal would make no difference to the bottom line of (Pritchard’s) decision,” Richards wrote.
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