Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details of the murders.
Mothers of the two murdered women broke down in tears outside the Duncan courtroom where Judge Keith Bracken handed down a sentence to William Gordon Robert Elliott of 20 years before the possibility of parole.
Elliott pleaded guilty last summer to the murders of 42-year-old Karrie-Ann Stone in July 2010 and 18-year-old Tyeshia Jones in January 2011, and he will serve a life sentence on the two counts of second degree murder, to be served concurrently.
The sentence falls in between the maximum of 25 years without parole that Crown prosecutors Scott Van Alstine and Laura Ford argued for and the more lenient sentence of 10 to 15 years without parole that defence lawyer Scott Sheets endorsed.
In coming to his decision, Bracken cited case law and said he considered a number of factors. The packed courtroom was hushed as the judge reiterated the facts of the case for a final time, calling the murders "brutal, senseless and callous."
Elliott picked up Stone on July 7, 2010 at about 3:30 a.m. from the parking lot of the motel where she was living.
He drove her to his home where they had consensual sex for which he paid her.
Elliott’s statement says Stone threatened to tell his wife about it if he didn’t give her more money and his response was to beat her unconscious with an aluminum baseball bat.
He then took her to a remote area in Glenora and set her on fire, knowing she was still alive, as she said "I can’t breathe," as he did it.
That he set fire to Stone while she was still alive is "particularly egregious", Bracken said.
Bracken also noted the "calculated" manner in which Elliott tried to prevent Stone from being identified, lighting her on fire as well as removing her personal items, including one of her dentures.
This was an attempt by Elliott, the judge said, not to be caught.
In the case of Tyeshia Jones, Elliott claims he accidentally hit the teenager with his truck on the night of Jan. 21, 2011, as she was walking to meet her boyfriend at the Duncan Superstore.
If he didn’t want to be caught for this offence, Bracken pointed out, "all he had to do was drive away."
Instead, Elliott picked her up and put her in his truck. He drove her to a wooded area behind the old Shaker Church in Duncan where he sexually assaulted her. He could not complete the rape because he could not get an erection.
He then stripped her body of all of her clothing and strangled her with her own bra. He beat her in the head and face.
He also pried out a number of Jones’s teeth and tried to poke one of her eyes out with a stick to make her more difficult to identify.
The murder can "only be described as brutal and callous," Bracken repeated.
The judge revealed these were not the first sexual assaults Elliott has committed.
Shortly after the age of 16, Elliott approached a 15-year-old girl in Courtenay, where he was living at the time, and punched her in the nose, breaking it and knocking her down.
He then brutally raped her. He was convicted in June of 2004 of aggravated sexual assault in the case.
Before that case was finished going through the courts, Elliott committed a similar offence in Duncan.
He and some friends committed a break and enter and stole some alcohol, which they took to a public park.
There was a young female there that Elliott approached, punched in the face and raped.
He has also been convicted of various other criminal offences.
A psychiatric report stated that the psychiatrist was not convinced of the sincerity of Elliott’s remorse and stated that he is at a high risk to reoffend.
This and Elliott’s history of sexual sadism "poses significant concern to the court," Bracken said.
He was also troubled that alcohol and drugs were not factors in these crimes, Elliott did not confess on his own initiative and the offences were unplanned. "He has never been able to properly explain his conduct," Bracken concluded.
Bracken also noted mitigating factors in determining his sentence, including Elliott’s troubled childhood that saw him experience abuse and hardship both with his father, living in a house without electricity and running water and other necessities, and when he lived with his mother, who worked in Vancouver as a prostitute.
He bounced from home to home in foster care.
His background as a First Nations man does have an impact on Elliott’s offences, Bracken said, and Elliott demonstrates some of the traits of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Bracken also noted his eventual confession and entering a plea of guilty as positive signs, along with what he called a "quite unique" willingness to speak to the mothers of the murdered women and apologize to them.
Elliott remained impassive as Bracken announced his sentence, and he declined to speak to the court.
Outside the courtroom Karrie-Ann’s mother Bev Stone and Tyeshia’s mother Mary Jim embraced as their tears fell, though the two women expressed different feelings about the sentence. "As far as I’m concerned this man’s a monster," said Bev Stone. "My reaction is this man got what he deserved, plain and simple. He took two children from us, Mary’s daughter and my daughter, and nothing else could have been better."
Hearing the details of what he did to Karrie-Ann was hard she said, but now the sentence provides some closure and the family is going to "remember Karrie the way we knew her."
Jim said that 20 years wasn’t enough. "It doesn’t bring my daughter and Karrie back," she said. "I’m not happy about it."
She questioned the validity of Elliott’s story, particularly his assertion that he hit Jones with his truck by accident.
Going forward, Jim said her daughter will always be in her thoughts.
"She will always be my everything," Jim said. "She’s my angel."