Yellowknife courthouse. Emelie Peacock photo
It was an emotional day in court as the first of four charged in connection with the 2017 murder of 25-year-old Alexander Norwegian was sentenced.
Tyler Cayen was sentenced to two years less a day for his part in the murder of his cousin, he has been serving time since January 2018 and has 314 days left to serve out his sentence.
Norwegian was robbed, beaten and left in the cold on the evening of Boxing Day 2017 on the K’atl’odeeche First Nation. Four people are charged in connection with his murder, all are related: Levi Cayen, Sasha Cayen, Tyler Cayen and James Thomas.
According to a statement of facts presented by the Crown, the four had been at Thomas’ house that evening. Thomas and Sasha Cayen went out once to purchase crack cocaine from Norwegian and later in the evening helped Norwegian when his car got stuck. Sasha Cayen received a piece of crack as a thank you.
Later in the evening Thomas and Levi Cayen decided to rob Norwegian. Armed with balaclavas and a small bat, they allegedly beat him and left him in his black sedan during a winter night with temperatures hovering from minus 29 to minus 33 Celsius with windchill.
Norwegian’s body wasn’t found until the morning of December 28. An autopsy confirmed his cause of death was hypothermia, with blunt force head injuries significantly contributing to his death.
Several family members spoke of how horrific it was to think of the way Norwegian died, alone in the cold.
“When I am cold I cannot help but think of Alex alone in the cold,” says Nicole Taff, the mother of Norwegian’s girlfriend Felicia Marshall.
His mother Wanda Steen says losing her son and having to come to court over this past year have caused her immense grief. She told the court she isn’t able to work and suffers from PTSD.
“I never thought I’d be planning a funeral or a celebration of life for my son, I should be planning a wedding or for my grandchild.”
32-year-old Tyler Cayen was sentenced as an accessory to manslaughter, for his role in burning clothes used in the robbery, going out to look for Norwegian’s drug ‘stash’ after the robbery and for misleading investigators at the early stages of the investigation. He wasn’t present during the robbery.
Sentencing for Sasha Cayen is scheduled for tomorrow in territorial court, she is charged with robbery and manslaughter. Trials for Levi Cayen and James Thomas, each charged with first-degree murder and robbery, will begin next year.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Sasha Cayen’s charges. She is charged with robbery and manslaughter.