At what may be the last opportunity for Jeffery Kraft of Ponoka to receive justice, his family and friends are rallying in the hopes the court will hear them.
Kraft, 20, was shot and killed on Dec. 15, 2019 in Lacombe and the sentencing of the remaining accused in his death is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. on March 4, 2021 at the Red Deer Provincial Courthouse.
On Dec. 15, 2019, Kraft and an acquaintance were socializing at a residence in Lacombe.
They were contacted by Amie Joanne Rogers and at about 1:30 a.m. Dec. 15, the two left the residence to meet her for the purpose of consuming cannabis, according to the agreed statement of facts previously disclosed in court.
Kraft and the other man got into a car with Rogers, not knowing that Tyler John Campbell was hiding in the trunk with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun.
After Rogers drove to a rural road, Campbell got out, confronted Kraft over money allegedly owed, and Kraft was shot in the chest.
Charges of second-degree murder, robbery with a firearm and conspiring to commit an offence, were discharged by Crown Prosecutor Ed Ring, who cited insufficient evidence, on Nov. 16, 2020.
Campbell, the co-accused, pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
At the last court date on Feb. 3, 2021, which was to be the sentencing of Campbell, the judge rejected the joint submission from the Crown Prosecutor and the defence for a sentence of seven years.
The judge, Hon. Jim Hunter, felt the sentence didn’t reflect the gravity of the crime and he won’t accept it unless counsel can convince him it is appropriate, according to Caitlin Kraft, Jeff’s sister.
“We hope the judge will hold (the accused) accountable for his actions … we need to be tougher on crime measures,” she said.
At 8:30 a.m. on the morning of the hearing, family, friends and supporters will gather wearing masks, wearing “Justice for Jeff” T-shirts, and carrying signs, to be a voice for Jeff, but for other victims as well.
The rally is being called “Justice for Jeff — Justice for All.”
Although the rally’s main focus is still on Jeff, it is also for any and all victims of crimes where the accused were out on bail for previous crimes, which includes Chantelle Firingstoney who was killed in Ponoka on Nov. 5, 2020, says Kraft.
“If anyone would like to attend and would like to join, please join us — bring a sign, come and be a voice for victims (as an) everyday citizen.”
Supporters can bring a mask and a sign saying either “Justice for Jeff” of “Justice for All” if they choose, she says.
“Be someone else’s voice.”