Port Alberni jury finds woman guilty of manslaughter in son’s 2021 death

Port Alberni jury finds woman guilty of manslaughter in son's 2021 death

A Port Alberni jury delivered it’s verdict Friday night in the murder trial of a woman accused of shooting and killing her adult son. The 12-person jury found Samantha Dittmer not guilty of second-degree murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Dittmer is convicted on the lesser charge for killing her son, Jesse McPhee, at their Port Alberni home on Aug. 29, 2021.

During the five-week murder trial, Dittmer testified she was trying to give a hunting rifle back to her son, when he charged at her and the gun fired.

Brandy Kazakoff, McPhee’s girlfriend, testified on Sept. 28 that the day he was shot, the three of them had spent much of the day together.

Kazakoff says she was on the deck with the door open and McPhee was making dinner. Around eight to 10 minutes later, she heard a loud bang, ran inside and saw Dittmer holding a shotgun about five feet from where McPhee lay on the ground.

Kazakoff misidentified the weapon as police determined it was a Husqvarna 270 Winchester bolt action hunting rifle.

Kazakoff says Dittmer said “I guess you better call 911 now” and walked upstairs with the rifle.


Following the verdict Friday night, Dittmer’s lawyer, Brian Coleman, said the jury made “a reasonable decision.”

“The questions they asked all indicated that they worked real hard at coming to the verdict and they’re entitled to come to that verdict,” Coleman said. “I think they came to the right agreement. I don’t think there was ever any intention to kill her son. Never.”

The minimum sentence for manslaughter, if a firearm is involved in the offence, is four years, with parole eligibility after serving one-third of the sentence. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is imprisonment for life.

Dittmer will remain out of custody on the same conditions as she has been under. Her next court appearance is Oct. 30, to set a date for sentencing.

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