A man convicted of manslaughter in the death of an 18-month-old baby in 2008 has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison.
Evan Gilmer, 33, was sentenced last Wednesday in the City’s Court of Queen’s Bench. Crown Prosecutor Jason Snider was seeking between six and eight years while Gilmer’s lawyer, Lorne Goddard, said four and a half years would be more appropriate.
In October, Gilmer was found not guilty of second-degree murder by a jury but was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Garth Leippi.
During portions of Gilmer’s sentencing hearing last week he sat in the prisoner’s box smiling multiple times at friends and family. He was otherwise emotionless during the proceedings.
At about 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2008, Red Deer City RCMP were called to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre after Garth was transported by ambulance from an apartment building in the 4800 block of 46 St.
RCMP said Garth was suffering from injuries that were “suspicious” in nature.
About 30 minutes later, homicide detectives from the local RCMP detachment were called in to investigate.
The boy was transported by STARS air ambulance to a Calgary hospital with life threatening injuries. He died about 30 hours after he was first admitted into the Red Deer hospital.
Gilmer was living with Garth’s mother, Jennifer Gladue at the time, but is not the boy’s biological father.
During the three-week trial this past fall, court heard that Gladue was sleeping in the basement suite she shared with Gilmer, her then common-law spouse, on the night the boy was sent to hospital. Gilmer had brought Garth from his bedroom to the living room after the boy had thrown up. The jury was told Gilmer was reportedly sleeping on the couch with Garth when the boy fell off. Gilmer allegedly attempted to pick the boy up off the floor but fell on him, put his hand down to support himself but pushed his hand into Garth’s head.
Evidence was presented in court stating Garth suffered from blunt head trauma and that he had extensive fractures in his skull, according to Dr. Evan Matshes, who testified during the proceedings.
Meanwhile, three victim impact statements were read during Gilmer’s sentencing hearing last week including one from Debi-Lyn Leippi, the grandmother of Garth and the mother of Bryan Leippi, Garth’s father.
“Our lives have been shattered. Evan, I am so angry you did this to Bryan. You not only succeeded in taking Jennifer from Bryan, but you also took his son. You were the best man at his and Jennifer’s wedding,” she said. “Garth was just beginning life – it shouldn’t be ending. He was an innocent child with a heart of gold.”
Snider also read a statement from Gladue that said, “I will never hear him (Garth) playing in the next room. I will never kiss him goodnight. I will never know why my son had to die.”
During sentencing submissions Snider said Gilmer is remorseful but has never taken responsibility for the crime.
“It is peculiar. Normally we see an acceptance of remorse and an acceptance of responsibility. Here we have an acceptance of remorse but not an acceptance of responsibility.”
Goddard said Gilmer has a strong support network and friends of his have said they are prepared to let him interact with their children when he is released from prison.
Justice Monica Bast said she had many things to consider when determining an appropriate sentence.
“Mr. Gilmer was in a position of trust. There was a delay in seeking help for Garth after the incident happened and Mr. Gilmer has not accepted responsibility.”
In addition to his sentence, Gilmer was ordered to give a sample of his DNA and a lifetime weapons ban was also set in place.
After the hearing, Snider told media Garth’s family is relieved the proceedings have concluded.