Khayden Otter can rest easy for the next 32 months – Trevor Spencer can’t hurt him behind bars.
In a half-filled Waswanipi courtroom, Spencer was sentenced to four and a half years in a federal penitentiary – minus 22 months already served pending trial.
Many Waswanipi residents, most of whom do not wish to speak on the record, feel the sentence is too light.
His grandfather was one of them. “When something happens to a child the law is very lenient,” said Ronnie Otter. “I think they should have a stricter law, a different law for [crimes against] children.”
Khayden is still recovering and has not regained full mobility on his right side. But doctors are amazed he’s even walking.
The incident occurred February 8, 2004. It brought the Cree Nation together and served as a catalyst for people to change the way they deal with their children – and the way they view outsiders.
Court documents showed that Khayden had suffered severe head trauma caused by two blows to the head with a stick. He spent seven months away from home after falling into a coma and being flown to a Montreal hospital.
Khayden’s story had a profound effect on everyone who met him or heard about him.
During his tour to thank people in the communities, many Elders saw amazing strength in the little guy.
People commented on how he held himself and lit up a room with his crooked smile.
At least one resident even named her child, who was born in December, after Khayden.
A month after the incident, all nine communities held a walk against violence to show support for the Otter and Rupert families and to let the rest of Canada know that they weren’t going to stand idly by while their children were left unprotected.
“He’s [Spencer] going to suffer more pain when he leaves this earth, not by a judge, but by God,” said Otter, who is deeply religious. “This guy has 32 months left to serve, but my grandson has to suffer this permanent handicap for the rest of his life.”
Spencer will serve his sentence in an as-yet undetermined federal penitentiary.
“Khayden is too young to remember what happened, but there will come a day, maybe when he’s a teenager, when he will ask why he can’t move his hand or why his smile is crooked,” said Otter.
“I don’t know what I’ll do when that day comes, but I know it’ll be very hard on the whole family.”
Otter went on to say that he and his family have chosen to forgive Spencer. Instead, they wish to put all their energy and prayers into helping Khayden get better.