A memorial for Matt Reeder is seeing here on Baker Street in June 2018. The sentencing trial for Miles Halverson, who pled guilty to manslaughter in Reeder’s death, is this week in Nelson Supreme Court. Photo: Tyler Harper

Sentencing begins for man guilty of manslaughter in Nelson death

Miles Halverson killed Matt Reeder in 2018

Miles Halverson wept as he asked for forgiveness Monday during a sentencing hearing in Nelson’s Supreme Court.

Halverson pled guilty on Sept. 18 to manslaughter in the death of Matt Reeder, who was sitting on the sidewalk of the 600 block of Baker Street on June 5, 2018, when Halverson kicked him in the head.

At the end of the hearing’s first day Monday, Halverson apologized to Reeder’s family between tears.

“I have to live with this,” said Halverson. “What’s worse is I knew the man and we did a lot of things together.”

Crown counsel Rebecca Smyth said Halverson and Reeder had bickered over a panhandling spot on Baker when the pair agreed that Reeder would leave later in the day. When Halverson returned to find Reeder still present, he kicked him once in the side of the head.

Smyth said one witness described the kick as “terrifying.” Another who saw it from across the street said it was a soccer-style kick that caused Reeder to slump back against a wall. “The man didn’t make a sound,” they said.

Video footage of the assault was supplied by a Nelson business and shown to the court, but not to the few spectators in attendance. Smyth and defence counsel Blair Suffredine both agreed the video provided an incomplete view of the incident.

Suffredine said a pathology report showed Reeder died due to an artery tear in his neck. Reeder was also intoxicated at the time, but no other substances were found in his body.

Smyth argued Monday for a sentence of five years, which she said would fall within the typical range for manslaughter penalties. Suffredine asked for two to three years. Both arguments account for the two years Halverson has already served.

Justice David Crerar said he will make his decision Friday.

Reeder’s death shocked Nelson residents, both for the violent nature of the incident as well as the mid-day timing on the city’s most popular street. A fixture of the local street community, Reeder was eulogized in a community memorial.

Smyth and Suffredine generally agreed on the facts of the case, but differed on a point about Halverson’s motive.

Halverson told Nelson police in custody he was upset after Reeder allegedly sexually assaulted a woman by touching her buttocks. A security guard who saw Halverson shortly after the incident outside the CIBC branch on Baker also heard him say, “He shouldn’t do that to women. I punched him out. That’s for him.”

Suffredine acknowledged what Halverson said to police, but argued he was also speaking under the influence. His client, Suffredine said, did not have a personal issue with Reeder’s alleged actions and was contrite in custody shortly after his arrest.

Halverson, now 54, spoke via video from a cell at Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver. There, Suffredine said, Halverson’s behaviour has received positive reviews from the prison staff.

“It is very clear when Mr. Halverson is not drinking he is a genuine human being,” said Suffredine.

Halverson said in his statement he plans to seek rehab for alcoholism when he is released.

“I’m too old to be sitting in these four walls,” he said.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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