Last month, Lester Alvin Favel appeared before a Regina Court of Queen’s Bench judge with the expectation he would be pleading guilty.
He backed out, resulting in his trial this week on a second-degree murder charge in the November 2013 death of 32-year-old Ronald Matthew Kay.
But after hearing just one day’s worth of evidence, Favel again changed his mind. The result, on Wednesday morning, was a guilty plea to manslaughter.
Sentencing took place Wednesday afternoon, with Justice Brian Barrington-Foote agreeing to impose the 7½-year sentence jointly requested by Crown and defence counsel. After receiving credit for remand, Favel was left with four years, 9½ months to serve.
In pleading guilty, the 23-year-old admitted to a range of actions, acknowledging he was a party to the beating that ultimately caused Kay’s death. Court heard Favel, along with others, kicked and punched Kay several times, shot him with a BB gun and urinated on him, all while Kay was still alive.
Favel also admitted to helping to dump Kay’s body in a garbage bin afterward.
“Beating a person to death is an act of brutality,” Barrington-Foote said. “This beating death was particularly brutal.”
The admissions closely mirror details heard in witness testimony on Tuesday, particularly from Kay’s sister Maxine Topp.
Topp told the court Kay died in the course of a prolonged, vicious beating which began when her brother was confronted over allegations of sexual assault.
She said Lester Favel, Bill Leonard Favel and Trevor Evan Asapace each took part in kicking and punching Kay, and that all four of them — Topp included — took turns shooting him with a BB gun.
Meanwhile, Asapace — who also testified on Tuesday — told the court both he and Lester urinated on Kay, and that Lester helped load the body inside a trash bin and wheel it away from the house on the 700 block of Garnet Street.
Kay’s body was never found.
Crown prosecutor Zoey Kim-Zeggelaar described the offence as a “senseless tragedy” and an “inexcusable act of violence.”
Kim-Zeggelaar read short victim impact statements from two of Kay’s sisters, describing how they feel hurt and lost as a result of their brother’s death.
“I feel alone and I miss him …,” Penny Kay wrote. “I wish we could find his body, lay him to rest.”
Kay’s family had reported him missing that November but, with little to go on, the investigation went cold. That changed in December 2016, when Asapace came forward unexpectedly and confessed to his role in the killing.
During the trial, Regina Police Service Sgt. Pierre Beauchesne told the court a call was made to the Regina landfill following Asapace’s confession in the hopes of searching for the body, but investigators were told between 100,000 and 600,000 tons of debris had been dumped since Kay’s disappearance — making a search unfeasible.
Asapace and Bill Favel have both since pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Asapace received a 15-year sentence less remand credit, while Bill was handed an 8½-year term less remand credit.
Court heard the three convicted men are related to each other, and that Kay was Lester’s uncle.
Defence lawyer Mervyn Shaw told the court Lester said he involved himself in the beating “at the insistence of Billy,” and regrets what he did.
Shaw added memories of childhood abuse suffered by Lester in the residential school system were triggered during the confrontation with Kay, and therefore also played a hand in his role in the beating.
“He feels very bad about what happened,” Shaw said. “He says he’s sorry for the things that were done.”
In sentencing, Barrington-Foote said he hopes Lester keeps in mind, as he moves on with his life, the pain caused to Kay’s family.
“It is important that Lester Favel understand what he has done to so many, and what cannot be undone,” he said.