‘Our justice system failed again today’: Family of Kristian Ayoungman disappointed with verdict


Kristian Ayoungman’s mother, Melody Ayoungman, stepped out of the courthouse and joined dozens in a healing song as the trial came to an end on Monday.

“We’re going to walk away humbly, loving, caring, the way we taught my son,” she told a group of supporters and media outside of the courthouse.

“What happened today, yes, we’re all disappointed. We expected the highest charge.”

Brandon Giffen was found guilty of manslaughter, not first degree murder, in the death of Ayoungman, 24, of Siksika Nation in Alberta.

In March, Brandon’s brother, Kody Giffen was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Ayoungman sold Kody a pack of cigarettes that wasn’t full, prompting a fight outside of a Strathmore, Alta., pub.

The fight moved to an apartment building where Brandon Giffen walked out with a hunting rifle.

That’s when Ayoungman and his friends fled in a truck.

The Giffen brothers followed and pulled over.

Brandon Giffen stepped out of the vehicle, fired the rifle, striking and killing Ayoungman.

“Our justice system failed again today, big, big time. They are wrong,” Melody Ayoungman said, adding Brandon Giffen should have been charged with murder instead of the lesser charge, manslaughter.

“You take a life, you aim a gun where there’s human beings – that’s murder.”

Giffen’s defense lawyer, Derek Jugnaugth said his client is relieved to possibly return home to parent his own children.

“There’s no question Mr. Giffen is relieved with the verdict from a legal standpoint,” Jugnauth said. “But the reality remains the tragedy that occurred back in March of 2019 He has to live with that reality the rest of his life knowing that he took another’s life.”

Melody said she wants to see positive change come from her son’s tragedy.

“Times need to change; things need to change. I hope they learn from their decisions for today. We’re not here to create riots. Today’s different. Look at us being peaceful,” she said, referring to the drummers and jingle dress dancers bringing the courthouse to light.

“That’s the way it should be.”

Giffen will be sentenced in the fall.

Video Journalist / Calgary

Tamara is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received a diploma in interactive media arts at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and has worked as a videographer for CBC in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. Tamara was hired by APTN in 2016 as a camera/editor and is now a video journalist in our Calgary bureau.