Family of Keesha Bitternose says justice was not served

Click to play video: 'Family of Keesha Bitternose says justice was not served' Family of Keesha Bitternose says justice was not served
WATCH: Kurt Thomas was sentenced to 18 years in the 2020 death of Keesha Bitternose from the George Gordon First Nation. She left behind four children. – Nov 20, 2021

A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 18 years in prison this week for Regina’s first homicide of 2020. Initially going up for first-degree murder, Kurtis Thomas pled guilty to the Court of Queen’s Bench to a lesser charge of manslaughter of Keesha Bitternose.

Bitternose was 29 years old when she passed away. On Jan., 5, 2020, she was found dead by Regina Police Service (RPS) at a residence on the 1500 block of Cameron Street around 11 p.m.

Thomas was given credit for time served in which he will serve over 15 years in prison. But to the family of Bitternose, it wasn’t enough.

Read more: 2 more charged with murder in Regina’s first homicide of 2020

“It’s hard to process. I was hoping for more justice,” said Lynea George, sister of Bitternose. “I wish there was more of an outcome…[his sentencing] should have been longer.”
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The past two years have been difficult for the family as they want answers in the death of their loved one. It still feels unreal to George as she knew her sister had so many plans.

“[Keesha] said her 30s was going to be her year,” she said. “She wanted her children under one roof again and she wanted to continue on with her post-secondary [education]. But her life was cut short.”

Bitternose left behind four children that range from the ages of 7 to 13. George describes her sister as outgoing and funny.

“She had a lot of humour,” said George. “She [was] always fun to be around.”

Bitternose’s father Arlen said every morning when he wakes up, he thinks of his daughter. Remembering the life she once lived and cherishing a photographic memory of her when she was a baby is ingrained in his mind. It is what helps him during his grieving process.

“She came to me in my dreams a few times. She told me what they did to her, I didn’t believe it until I heard it [in court],” he said.
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Read more: Man facing 3 murder charges in the death of 3 Regina residents

Due to a publication ban, details of the facts presented in the sentencing could not be disclosed for the reason of the two accused who are still before the courts. But despite the 18-year-long sentence for Thomas, Bitternose’s father says justice wasn’t served.

“I felt [yesterday’s] sentencing was unsatisfied,” he said. “Listening to what [the accused] had done to her…to me the sentence wasn’t long enough.”

Thomas was one of three people who were charged with Bitternose’s murder. Dillon Ricky Whitehawk, 25, of Regina and Kelly Renee Stonechild, 26, of Regina were also charged with Bitternose’s murder. Their trials will occur sometimes next year.

For the family, waiting for the next two trials halts their grieving process. George said even though the accused is sentenced, it does not bring back her sister.

“As much as we want to put it behind us, and go forward in our healing journey, we still have two more trials going forward,” said George. “It feels like we take one step forward to take 10 steps back. It’s hard.”

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