Crown pushes for 11 years in Cowan shooting case

By Taylor MacPherson
November 14, 2017 - 12:00pm

A Prince Albert judge will spend the week deciding the appropriate sentence for a young man guilty of manslaughter in the city’s first homicide of 2016.

Tyler Pechawis, 27, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the Jan. 9, 2016 shooting death of 23-year-old Jonathan Lee Cowan. Pechawis’ sentencing hearing was held this morning at Prince Albert’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

Crown prosecutor Cynthia Alexander said Pechawis and Cowan were both caught up in a dispute between two other men over a missing $200. Alexander said Pechawis and two other men, Reno Roy Keenatch and Preston Spencer Dean Bird, went to Cowan’s apartment in search of the man who allegedly stole the money from Keenatch. Bird and Pechawis went along as “muscle,” Alexander said, and the trio brought a shotgun which they retrieved from Pechawis’ home.

When the trio arrived at Cowan’s home in the 1,000-block of First Ave. W., Alexander said Pechawis, Keenatch and Bird broke a rear window with the butt of the shotgun and entered. Following a brief altercation, she said Bird shot Cowan once in the stomach, killing him. The three then fled the scene and drove West out of the city, where she said Pechawis threw the shotgun shell away.

Alexander said Keenatch and Bird were also arrested and are now facing charges in connection with the killing. Both men are currently awaiting pre-trials, she said.

Although Pechawis did not pull the trigger personally, Alexander said he shares responsibility for the death. He knew the dispute was becoming increasingly violent, she said, and joined in despite having no personal involvement. Pechawis also helped dispose of evidence, she noted.

Alexander pushed for a sentence of 11 years, saying the use of a firearm made the crime worthy of a sentence on the higher end of the scale.

Defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle noted Pechawis entered a guilty plea and cooperated with police after his arrest. Pfefferle said his client has no criminal record as an adult, despite struggling with serious drug addictions.

Pfefferle asked for a sentence of four to nine years.

Given the opportunity to address the court personally, Pechawis stood in the prisoner’s box wearing leg-irons and the green-and-grey uniform of the local correctional centre. Pechawis said he prepared a statement addressed to Cowan’s family, but declined to read it because none of the victim’s family members were present in the courtroom.

Justice Lyle Zuk said he needed time to consider all the factors in the case, and adjourned the matter until Friday afternoon when he will render his oral decision.

Pechawis has been held on remand for more than 600 days since his arrest, which means he will be given credit for roughly 30 months already served against his final sentence.


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