The family of a man killed after an altercation on the streets of Fort St. John three years ago is saying that justice has not been served.
Joel Christopher Marchand, 31, was found guilty of manslaughter after punching Chris Ball, 39, on the streets of Fort St. John in the early morning hours of July 23, 2012. Ball was taken to the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton, but was taken off life support and passed away 11 days after the incident.
Marchand was sentenced to three years in prison, 219 days of which had been served in pre-trial custody.
He could be eligible for parole this spring because the sentencing was issued Nov. 27. That's because under Canadian law, eligibility for parole typically comes after one-third of the sentence.
“The justice system is so sickening, it’s not even funny,” said Chris Ball’s older brother, Jonathan Ball. “If it was a fair fight, and my brother and him had exchanged words and they decided to have a fistfight, and my brother got the worst of it, what would I say?”
Instead, he said his brother was sucker punched by Marchand, who had experience with mixed martial arts fighting.
“We’re completely destroyed by what happened to my brother, we’re be no means over it, and we’re absolutely disgusted at the kangaroo court — that’s what I call it — of Canada. It’s a joke,” said Jonathan.
Jonathan and his father Ken said that justice would have been a charge of second-degree murder. “I would have liked to have seen a 10-year sentence,” said Jonathan.
During the trial, Marchand’s lawyer asked for a sentence of time served plus probation.
“He actually stood in the courtroom and asked for time served,” he said. “Someone was killed over this and these guys are asking for four months time served.”
Jonathan did give credit to the police who handled the case. They tracked down video evidence of the altercation, taken by a bystander, which provided a graphic firsthand account of Chris Ball’s final moments.
“His hand didn’t even come up, he didn’t even make an attempt to protect himself from hitting the ground,” said Jonathan, describing how his brother didn’t see his attacker's final blow in the video.
His father said that without that pivotal piece of video evidence, there might not have even been a trial.
“If there hadn’t have been a video, he would have walked,” said Ken. “The police told us that. We could have charged the guy with assault, and that would have been it. He would have gotten six months or something.”
Chris graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in criminology in 1998, and after graduation worked as a counselor to troubled youth in Calgary.
He started his own tiling company, but sold it to work in the oil patch with his brother, Jonathan. He had been working in Northeastern B.C. for seven months when his life was cut short.
“He’s just gone. He died on a dirty street in Fort St. John, and he’s gone. You look at all the things he did in his life, you grew up with him, and he’s your little brother, and you just feel like there’s such a void. I can’t explain it,” said Jonathan.
“I’ll never get over it, it’s always going to be there.”