Family members and friends of Jonathan Styres emerged from a Hamilton courthouse with a small sense of relief after a judge sentenced his killer to eight years in prison.
“Going through this process and the judicial system you just have to be thankful for a small kind of victory,” said Styres’ partner, Lindsay Hill.
The prison sentence, delivered June 6, comes seven years after Styres was shot and killed outside Peter Khills’ home on Feb. 4, 2016.
Khill shot Styres twice as he was breaking into his pickup truck.
“I was honestly surprised with eight [years],” said Hill, “I was expecting four because, I don’t know, it’s hard to have any expectations though except disappointment.”
Styres’ death leaves Hill with two children to raise.
Khill, of Binbrook, Ont., successfully argued at trial he was acting in self-defence when he shot Styres of Ohsweken, Ont., outside his semi-rural home because he thought he was stealing his vehicle.
He testified that his four years of army reservist training kicked in when he grabbed a loaded Remington shotgun in his bedroom and went outside barefoot in the frigid darkness wearing only a T-shirt and boxer shorts to confront Styres.
Within seconds of spotting Styres leaning into his 15-year-old truck, court was told Khill yelled, “Hands up!” and fired twice from just a few metres away.
Styres, 29, was shot in the chest. Court heard he had no gun but may have had a screwdriver.
Khill’s girlfriend called 911 to the property on the edge of Hamilton.
Khill was acquitted at his first trial but Crown prosecutors appealed.
The case made it to the Supreme Court where a new trial was ordered.
At the end of the second trial, Khill was convicted of manslaughter.
Styres and Hill grew up together and attended the same school in Six Nations of the Grand River, about 40 km southwest of Hamilton.
But it wasn’t until they reached their 20s that their relationship began.
Hill told APTN News that Styres was a funny, laid back and loyal partner and father.
“He wanted that type of relationship – the whole unconditional love part of it,” she said. “That was something that he wanted in his life.”
Hill said she had to juggle court dates while raising their children with almost no time to grieve.
“I hope that he would say that I’m doing a good job with the girls,” she said. “And there are certain things that I just try to do. I remember him always talking about his birthday, and how he wanted to have a really good birthday for the girls and stuff.
“So those are the kind of things I can do to try and have his influence there in a way.”
Hill said receiving support from the community, family and friends has helped.
“Standing beside (Hill) through all this whole time our relationship has gotten closer and brought us together,” said friend Tawn Thomas. “We’ll sit here and cry together, sit here and argue and get mad, and try to heal and deal with it all.”
Hill said she’s looking forward to finding some peace.
Khill’s lawyer said the sentence would be appealed.