Nearly 30 friends and family of David Williams filled the gallery of courtroom 201 at the Chilliwack Law Courts Monday to hear the sentence for the man who killed the 33-year-old just over a year ago.
It was April 18, 2016 when Daniel Joseph Fabas fired three shots from a 22-calibre rifle through a broken window out of a Princess Avenue drug dealer’s ground floor apartment.
The first two shots missed Williams who was outside, and who had broken the window.
The third shot hit the father of three between the eyes, killing him.
Early on in the case Fabas pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
For that, he was sentenced to six years in prison by Justice Heather Holmes in BC Supreme Court. Holmes also handed Fabas a one-year sentence to be served consecutively for possession of a weapon while prohibited.
He has been in custody since April 29, 2016 so was given two year’s credit for time served, using the standard 1.5-to-one ratio.
Williams and Fabas had a conflict-ridden history that hit a peak a year earlier on July 12, 2015 with Williams attacking Fabas with a machete, causing a gash to his face and other injuries. The attack was prompted because Williams accused Fabas of assaulting a cousin, an incident that he alleged led to that cousin’s suicide.
Whether or not Fabas indeed suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of the machete was the subject of some discussion in the case.
“The attack certainly had a serious effect on him making him fearful of Mr. Williams,” Holmes said in reading her decision.
That fear led Fabas to hide a rifle in the apartment of a drug dealer on Princess Avenue where he was staying.
Leading up to the homicide, Williams had made several visits to the apartment demanding entry only to be refused. On April 18, 2016, his girlfriend texted the drug dealer looking for heroin. She apparently attended and consumed drugs.
Williams later showed up, himself high on crystal meth, smashed glass outside the unit demanding to be let in. Someone in the unit denied entry, and it was then that Fabas picked up the rifle and fired three shots out the window.
The first two missed, the third struck Williams between the eyes.
Fabas then fled on a bicycle, and after his arrest 11 days later claimed to not have known he killed Williams. He said he was appalled when he came by the scene and saw forensics investigators and that someone had died.
During the sentencing hearing on Aug. 21, four members of Williams’ family read victim impact statements, and two others were too emotional to write so expressed thoughts via Crown counsel.
There were tears in the courtroom Aug. 28 as Holmes read out the details of the case and the impact the killing has had on Williams’ extended family, particularly his young son and daughter who read “profoundly moving” victim impact statements a week prior.
“The strength they have shown will serve them well,” Holmes said of Williams’ children.
Williams was a top athlete often placing among the top finishers in international paddling events. The court heard he was a community leader and a role model to children involved in the paddling club.
“They are lost without him,” Holmes told the court.
He did, however, have his demons, which often led him back to the illegal drug underworld in Chilliiwack.
Fabas, too, is a father. The court heard of his efforts to stay connected to his four-year-old even from behind bars.
“He does his best to stay in contact by sending recorded bedtime stories,” Holmes told the court.
Crown counsel Henry Waldock asked the court to impose a seven-year sentence for the manslaughter and one year to be served consecutively for the weapons offence.
Defence lawyer David Silverman asked for something closer to the four-year minimum for manslaughter with a firearm, and for the one year for the firearm’s offence to be served consecutively.
“This was a tragic loss of a valuable and valued member of the community,” Holmes said in issuing a sentence of seven years total.
Holmes said while Fabas did not intend to kill Williams, Fabas was involved in the drug sub-culture, had a gun to defend the apartment of a drug dealer, and Williams’ arrival that evening came as no surprise.
“His act was not an impulsive one,” Holmes said, adding that his “moral culpability was high because of resorting to self-defence in the drug sub-culture.”
Family and friends of Williams held a brief drum ceremony on the steps of the courthouse after the verdict.