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Milden woman charged with manslaughter, sexual assault sentenced in Outlook

MacQueen received sentences for two separate charges in courtroom.
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AUTHOR'S NOTE - The following article provides case details that some readers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.

OUTLOOK - The woman charged with ending the life of Milden resident Randy Garrett in a home incident that took place in March 2021 stood in an Outlook courtroom this week to receive her sentence. In addition, she also received sentencing for a count of sexual assault against a minor in incidents that took place in 2019.

Melissa MacQueen, 43, was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs by RCMP officers on Tuesday morning, September 27, viewed by a gallery that was comprised mainly of those who were closely affected by the events in question, including relatives of the late Garrett, who was 61 years old at the time of his death.

MacQueen was charged with manslaughter causing the death of Garrett, and following discussion with her counsel, she entered a plea of guilty to the charge.

The relationship between MacQueen and Garrett was described as an on-again, off-again courtship and at times was capable of becoming extremely volatile, with a witness stating that the two would sometimes "play-fight" and that could have the potential to escalate into real violence. Garrett's family members had heard stories of MacQueen's past and attempted to talk him out of remaining in a relationship with her, but their concerns fell on deaf ears.

A description of the case's events reveal that past the midnight hour on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, an inebriated Randy Garrett had entered a home where Melissa MacQueen was located. He continued to drink while she told him to leave the premises, which he would not do. The argument continued to escalate and MacQueen picked up a hammer, threatening Garrett and continuing to tell him to leave the home. When Garrett didn't comply, MacQueen attacked him with the hammer, striking him with two blows to the head. At this point, Garrett then got up and left, returning home and going to bed. MacQueen didn't alert anyone about the attack, and she put the hammer in a box in her basement.

The next morning, Randy's brother Scott received no answer at the door when he tried calling on his brother. Entering the house, he discovered an unresponsive Randy in his bed, covered in blood. Garrett had died at some point throughout the night.

A post-mortem examination of Garrett's body showed that his blood-alcohol level was approximately 0.312, almost four times the legal limit. Among the other discoveries in the autopsy were the presence of hypertension, an enlarged heart, and cirrhosis of the liver, which is a late stage of scarring of the liver that can be caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism.

Victim impact statements that were read in the Outlook courtroom shared the heartache and trauma that family members have been suffering from in the time since the events took place.

"I love my brother, I miss my brother, and to this day I am struggling with this event," wrote Scott Garrett.

Further statements were read and provided by a number of Randy's children, as well as his mother, Joyce Garrett.

Many in the courtroom wiped away tears as each statement was read aloud.

MacQueen's defense provided a background of her life up to the night in question, including how her life had "begun to unravel" when her dad died when she was quite young. Describing this turn in her life, it was said that Melissa's mother and stepfather apparently had no issues at all with the then-7-year old turning to alcohol, and she also was allegedly the victim of sexual abuse for a period of four years. MacQueen was drinking routinely at 11 years old, and by the age of 15, she had moved out of her home. She had accepted work as a drug runner before ultimately deciding to go back to school and try to improve her life. She married at the age of 21, but turned to drinking again after losing a baby, although she later gave birth to a daughter.

It was also said that MacQueen was a victim of spousal abuse, and that she suffered a nervous breakdown after her sister had died.

Speaking to the events of March 3, 2021 specifically, MacQueen did not give any protest and agreed with the way in which Garrett had died, which is why she pled guilty to the manslaughter charge. It was said that she didn't know the severity of Randy's injuries as he walked home after being struck with the hammer.

Following a 30-minute court recess, Judge M. Martinez returned with his decision on the case. While stating that this was "a terrible tragedy, obviously", he said that it was clear from the description of events that MacQueen didn't have direct intentions of killing Randy Garrett. Describing the topsy-turvy nature of a charge such as manslaughter to those in the courtroom and how the charge is capable of running the gamut, Judge Martinez believed this particular case to be at the "low end" of manslaughter, to the point of almost being an accident. In addition, he noted that Garrett's high blood-alcohol level at the time, coupled with the other health problems that were discovered post-mortem likely had a hand in leading to his death.

Judge Martinez felt that what was recommended was an appropriate sentence and asked Melissa MacQueen to rise, sentencing her to 36 months in a penitentiary and imposing a 10-year prohibition on owning and operating firearms. MacQueen, having already spent 19 months on remand, was given credit for a total of 29 months due to the time being considered time and a half (1.5 days). As such, MacQueen has approximately seven months of her sentence left to serve.

The sentence that was delivered caused several in the gallery to visibly show their disbelief, unsatisfied with the decision.

In addition, MacQueen pled guilty to a charge of sexual assault against a minor in incidents that took place over a matter of months in 2019. A jail term of 30 months was being sought by the prosecution in this case, as well as an order that would prevent MacQueen from obtaining a job involving anyone aged 16 years and under.

A description of the events was read aloud by prosecutor Tom O'Hara, eliciting tears from those in the gallery.

Victim impact statements from both the victim and the victim's mother were also read in the courtroom.

Judge Martinez accepted the prosecution's proposal and sentenced MacQueen to 30 months in a penitentiary. She also must provide DNA at times when requested, and must officially register as a sex offender for a period of 20 years. MacQueen also cannot be in a position of trust or authority to those under 16 years of age, and cannot have contact with anyone under 16 years of age unless a court finds it appropriate.