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‘Horrific’ 2018 triple homicide stoked divisions and fear: families

A sentencing hearing on Thursday was another step toward healing the grieving relatives of three Six Nations of the Grand River members killed in 2018.

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A sentencing hearing on Thursday was another step toward healing the grieving relatives of three Six Nations of the Grand River members killed in 2018.

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Nicholas Shipman and Jamie Beaver were originally charged with second degree murder in the triple homicide, but each reached settlements which included their guilty pleas to lesser charges.

“There is lingering pain from these deaths,” Judge Paul Sweeny told Brantford Superior Court.

“It’s a trauma that the whole community has to endure.”

Shipman was sentenced to 18 years in prison in addition to being given an enhanced time served credit of 4½ years for his custody pending trial.

He pleaded guilty on November 5 in Superior Court to three counts of manslaughter. He has been in prison since his arrest on November 3, 2018 on unrelated charges.

Also on Nov. 5, Shipman’s girlfriend Beaver pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault. She was sentenced on Thursday to serve around 48 months due to the harsh pre-trial conditions she spent in pre-trial detention. She was released on November 5 after being detained since November 12, 2018 on unrelated charges.

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An agreed statement of facts says that on November 4, 2018, near London, hunters discovered a stolen gray 2006 Chevrolet Silverado with three bodies wrapped in blankets, bound by ropes and covered with a tent in the bed of the truck. The bodies were those of Melissa Trudi Miller, 37, seven months pregnant, Alan Porter, 33, and Michael Jamieson, 32.

Post-mortem examinations revealed that Miller had died of multiple stab wounds to the chest. Porter died of “multiple acute force trauma” to the neck and chest, and Jamieson died after being shot in the chest.

All died in the late evening of October 29, 2018, or early the next morning in a trailer belonging to Kirsten Bomberry on Fourth Line Road in Ohsweken.

Around 11 p.m., Miller, Porter, Jamieson, Beaver, Nicholas Shipman and his brother Vern Shipman, Kirsten Bomberry and his cousin Thomas Bomberry, and Victoria Styres were “socializing and drinking” in the living room of Kirsten Bomberry’s trailer.

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A heated argument broke out between Styres and Miller. Afterwards, Beaver and Miller started a physical fight and Beaver took out a knife and stabbed Miller once in the chest. Nicholas Shipman took Beaver’s knife and stabbed Miller four or five more times.

Alan Porter tried to help Miller, and Nicholas Shipman struck him in the foot with the knife. Porter was knocked to the ground where Nicholas Shipman stabbed and killed him with the same knife.

While others left or slept, Shipman wrapped up the bodies and he and Jamieson carried them to a garage on the property. At some point during the night, Shipman shot Jamieson in the chest.

The case traumatized the Six Nations community, destroyed friendships and caused pain that continues to be felt across the reservation, according to the families.

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The judge listened to nine victim statements from grieving relatives who spoke of their anguish over death and the many factors that made things worse for them.

They said they were isolated in their own communities after learning who had been charged and who had claimed to be unaware of the crimes while offering sympathy.

Several spoke of the long wait to hear from police about the deaths of their loved ones as rumors swirled.

And they talked about the fear of retaliation in a small community where everyone is related or knows each other.

Speaking via teleconference, Trudy Miller, Melissa Miller’s mother, spoke of the pain of hearing about three bodies found outside London.

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“We kind of knew it was her,” she said. “People started coming. Everyone was saying all kinds of things like how she was killed and who did it.

“These young people who knew what was going on, I begged them to speak to the police.”

Sue Jamieson, the mother of Michael Jamieson, has opened up about how she feared for her own safety following the death of her son. She said supporters would come and sit in her driveway all night watching her.

“I placed a cross where my son was murdered. Still to this day, it is difficult to walk past the place.

Amber Porter, carrying a photo of her brother Alan Porter, said the homicides had “destroyed a lot of relationships”.

“There are friends who no longer speak. It divides our community.

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A rare Community Victim Impact Statement was donated by Chasity Martin of Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support on Six Nations. Martin said the agency had seen an increase in calls and requests for help after the homicides and that “deep levels of fear” had been sparked in the community.

“It was a horrific act of violence that will be remembered for generations.”

The judge agreed with Martin and added, “There is no sentence that will help them overcome their deep sense of loss.”

Sweeny accepted the joint sentencing proposal drawn up by Crown prosecutor Andrew Falls and attorneys for Shipman and Beaver.

Falls told the judge that community trust had been damaged by the traumatic events surrounding the deaths. He noted that Shipman and Beaver each had criminal records and attempted to cover up their crimes.

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But, Falls added, the guilty pleas are helping grieving families get closer to accountability in the case and have spared the court a complex trial that could have lasted months.

Thomas Bomberry, 32, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Miller and Porter.

Her trial began last month in Hamilton and ran into major problems when key Crown witness Kirsten Bomberry insisted she remembered nothing of the murders in her home, including the identity of his cousin, Thomas. It stopped when the defendant fired his lawyer.

Kirsten Bomberry was also charged with accessory to murder after the fact for her role in trying to cover up the deaths, but successfully argued that she acted out of fear of Shipman. She was acquitted in June 2019.

Thomas Bomberry will return to court to continue his trial with a new lawyer.

The ancillary charges against Roland Sturgeon have been dropped and the ancillary charges against Shipman’s brother, Vernon Shipman, are due in April.

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