Eiryn Straightnose didn’t pull the trigger, but she did send the text message that led to the killing of Winston Littlecrow in Saskatoon just over a year ago.
Straightnose was initially charged with first-degree murder for the Dec. 7, 2019, shooting of the father of five. On Monday in Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench, the 22-year-old pleaded guilty to the lesser included charge of manslaughter.
Justice Gerald Allbright accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence for a nine-year sentence. With credit for time spent in custody, Straightnose has seven years and five months left to serve.
Court heard that Straightnose was a member of the Terror Squad gang, while Littlecrow, 35, was a member of the rival Indian Posse gang. Both were at the same house at the same time.
Straightnose wanted to turn the home in the 200 block of Avenue X North into a “trap house” — place for her gang to sell drugs, according to the facts of the case presented by Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa.
When Straightnose saw Littlecrow, she became angry. In October 2019, she was wounded in the arm by a machete-wielding member of the Indian Posse.
In an apparent act of revenge, Straightnose texted someone who she knew had a gun. Video surveillance showed a person walk toward the Avenue X house as Littlecrow was leaving.
Wearing a dark sweatshirt with the hood up, the gunman raised his arm. The flash of the gun was visible on video.
The bullet hit Littlecrow in the back. The 35-year-old died on the operating table.
There were no victim impact statements, as “family members were not able to be located,” Kujawa said.
The event was “incredibly serious,” but “unfortunately, not that shocking,” given the regular violence between the Terror Squad and Indian Posse, Kujawa said.
Defence lawyer Kathy Hodgson-Smith told court Straightnose grew up in Yorkton before moving to Saskatoon. Her home life was initially free from alcohol and drugs. She played volleyball and hockey.
“Eiryn had a very positive upbringing by her own words,” Hodgson-Smith said, while also noting the presence of inter-generational effects of the residential school system on her family.
The move to Saskatoon coincided with a family breakdown. She later moved to Edmonton where she was introduced to drugs and the gang lifestyle. Straightnose had her third child while living in Edmonton.
She returned to Saskatoon, and “really, her life went off the rails at that point,” her lawyer said.
Straightnose has completed some classes while in custody, along with addictions programming. She’s also connected with STR8 UP, which helps people transition out of gang life.
During sentencing, Justice Allbright said Straight has “some real potential” and recommended she receive counselling and treatment while in custody.
Appearing by video from Pine Grove Correctional Centre, the 22-year-old thanked the judge.
“I’d like to say thank you for sentencing me today, so I can move on with my life and leave the old one behind,” she said. “So I can see my kids because I need them and they need me.”
The case against the person who shot Littlecrow remains before the courts.