Port Alberni mother sentenced for shooting and killing her adult son

Port Alberni mother sentenced for shooting and killing her adult son
Samantha Dittmer spoke with CHEK News ahead of learning her sentence for shooting her son in August 2021.

A Port Alberni mother has been sentenced to four years in prison for shooting and killing her son.

In October a jury ruled Samantha Dittmer was guilty of manslaughter in the death of the 37-year-old, who was fatally shot in their home in 2021.

Samantha Dittmer, 64, spoke with CHEK News before entering the Port Alberni courthouse to learn her fate Friday.

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

“I loved Jesse more deeply than I loved anybody. He was such a wonderful person,” said Dittmer.

Crown Counsel and Dittmer’s lawyers presented the Supreme Court Justice with a joint submission of four years in prison. It’s the mandatory minimum sentence for manslaughter under the Criminal Code of Canada.

During the murder trial last fall, the court heard McPhee and Dittmer were arguing on Aug. 29, 2021, prior to Dittmer retrieving a hunting rifle from under her bed upstairs, bringing it down and shooting her son.

Dittmer testified she was only trying to bring the gun to her son when he lurched at her and the gun fired. She maintains she didn’t have her finger on the trigger and she didn’t realize it was loaded.

“I suppose maybe I should’ve double checked it but you know I just didn’t think about that and I’m just not used to handling things like that. All I know is that I love my son and I still do,” said Dittmer.

The jury found her guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

On Friday Crown Counsel’s Gordon Baines said the killing was entirely forseeable and easily avoidable and her actions fell far short of what the law required. Dittmer did not have a gun license.

Her lawyer Brian Coleman said Dittmer did not have any evil intent and it was purely and simply negligence. He called it the lowest level of manslaughter and he believes this case is an example where legislated minimum mandatory sentences are problematic.

“I would’ve asked for significantly less when you compare what happened here which is tragic and compare it with circumstances of other cases that were cited. This was a much less severe set of circumstances,” said Coleman.

When given the chance to address the court Dittmer, who had no criminal record said she is devastated for what happened to her son.

“I’m devestated that my son is dead,” Dittmer said. “If people think I was careless I guess I was…If I could take it all back I would of course. No one is going to miss him more than me. I’m very verry sad. I guess I should’ve checked but I didn’t know it was loaded. I’m very sorry for my son.”

The Supreme Court Justice sentenced the Port Alberni mother to the recommended four year prison sentence and a 10 year firearms prohibition.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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