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Appeal dismissed for man convicted in Wetaskiwin manslaughter case

Ryan Jake Applegarth is currently serving a life sentence for the second degree murder of a Ponoka woman
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The appeal was heard on May 1, 2024, at the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton. 

The conviction of Ryan Jake Applegarth for the manslaughter of Jamison Louis in Wetaskiwin in early 2020 has been upheld. 

The appeal was heard on May 1, 2024, at the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton. 

Applegarth, born and raised in Wetaskiwin and a treaty status member of Samson Cree Nation, was convicted of the charge on April 7, 2022, by Justice S.D. Hillier following a judge-alone trial. 

The court found Applegarth had attended the home of the victim at about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2020, for the purpose of buying drugs. Louis told Applegarth to come back later. 

According to court documents, a few hours later, there was a knock at the door, and when Louis went to answer it, he was confronted by a man in a mask with a shotgun. After a struggle in the doorway for the gun, Louis was shot and died shortly after, having sustained injury to his heart and liver. 

Witnesses identified the masked man as Applegarth, although in police interviews he denied returning to the residence. The victim’s partner testified she had met Applegarth on several occasions and recognized him despite the mask. 

No evidence was given at trial to suggest Applegarth was unfamiliar to the witness. 

Applegarth was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, because the Crown could not prove there was intent to discharge the firearm. He was sentenced on Nov. 3, 2022, to eight years in jail. 

The appeal challenged the eyewitness identification as unreliable and alleged “uneven scrutiny” of the judge’s consideration of the defence’s evidence versus the Crown’s and sought an acquittal of the conviction or a new trial. 

The appeal panel concluded the trial judge used appropriate caution when reviewing the witness’s testimony and agreed the issue of the shooter’s identity was one of recognition rather than identification. 

“There is a significant distinction between recognition, where a witness identifies someone with whom they are familiar, and identification, where a witness is asked to identify a stranger never seen by them before the offence,” states the written decision of the appeal. 

“The frailties which attach to most eyewitness identification testimony do not apply with equal force to recognition evidence.” 

Applegarth is currently serving a life sentence for the second degree murder of a Ponoka woman, Chantelle Firingstoney. 

She died on Nov. 5, 2020. A four-day judge alone trial concluded Applegarth was responsible for her death, as he was the only other adult in the residence at the time. 

Applegarth had already been charged in relation to Louis’ death and was out on bail when Firingstoney was killed. 

He was sentenced for the Ponoka homicide on Jan. 26, 2024, in Wetaskiwin. 

It will be 18 years before he will be eligible to apply for parole. 



Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I'm a reporter for Ponoka News and have lived in Ponoka since 2015.
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