Lawyers order cultural assessment in high-profile murder case
The defence team in a recent high-profile murder case has requested a cultural assessment to help explain violence in the African Nova Scotian community.
In 2010, Kale Gabriel shot Ryan White in Halifax’s Mulgrave Park. White later died from his injuries.
Gabriel has already been convicted of second degree murder, which comes with an automatic life sentence. However, his eligibility for parole has yet to be determined.
To that end, Gabriel’s defence team has ordered a cultural assessment. The report will provide the court with information about an offender’s ethnocultural background. Gabriels’s lawyer, Geoff Newton, says he hopes the cultural assessment will result in a more rehabilitative sentence for his client.
If accepted by the court, the cultural assessment will form part of the sentencing report.
Social worker Robin Wright says he prepared the first cultural assessment in Nova Scotia, a report that helped a judge decide not to sentence him as an adult.
“Where they're from; how their race, their culture, their ethnicity, their community's experience, historically, with racism and with settlement – how all of those factors may have played a part in the influences that brought the person before the court,” said Wright. “There may be important information in an assessment that helps the individuals who will be responsible for that person's custody to understand what type of particular programming that particular person needs.”
However, he says such assessments are still extremely rare. “I think that this might be the second or third time that this impact of race and culture assessment will be used in Nova Scotia.”
Wright says cultural assessment should be more common. He points to the Gladue report, which provides information about an offender’s aboriginal heritage, and has become more common in recent years.
Theresa White, the victim’s mother, says she’s not happy about the push for the cultural assessment. She doesn’t believe race should be factor when sentencing criminals.
“I think that a crime is a crime, and colour shouldn't matter whatsoever.”
White says that all of this just drags her family through more pain.
“It's very difficult to try to forward your life when you're being called back to that same sadness over and over.”
The case returns to court on May 24.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.