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Last of four charged in Ryan Gatzke's death to be sentenced

RCMP found Ryan Gatzke in his home in Battleford on Oct. 18, 2019. He was badly injured and taken to the North Battleford hospital by EMS where he was later declared deceased.
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Ryan Gatzke, right, with his common-law wife Tashina Peters. The couple were engaged and living together. They were expecting their first child.

BATTLEFORD – A young offender found guilty of manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke will be sentenced on May 10 in Battleford Court of King’s Bench.

In January, the young offender agreed to be sentenced as an adult. He can’t be identified due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

A four-day trial for the young offender, who was 17 at the time of Gatzke’s murder in October 2019, was held in April 2023. Justice Heather MacMillan-Brown found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, as well as break and enter and possession of a firearm contrary to a court-ordered prohibition order.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt is seeking a 10-year prison sentence, whereas defence lawyer Katherine Pocha asked the court to hand down an eight-year prison sentence. With time-and-half credit for time served while waiting for trial, the young offender will have five-and-a-half years knocked off his sentence. Justice MacMillan-Brown had reserved her decision and the matter was adjourned to set a sentencing date. 

North Battleford Provincial Court previously heard that an employee at the casino had tipped off Terror Squad street gang members that Gatzke had money and drugs in his home.  SIGA told SASKTODAY in an email that the casino staff member worked at the casino before Gatzke's murder and after his murder but not the day of the murder. SIGA, however, wouldn't confirm the name of the employee so SASKTODAY was unable to independently verify this. 

After a night out at the casino with his common-law wife on Oct. 18, 2019, Gatzke, 27, was fatally shot in an attempted armed robbery.

Gatzke’s common-law wife Tashina Peters was with him at the time. The couple were engaged and living together. They were expecting their first child. Peters described how helpless she felt the night Gatzke was murdered.

“We were out at the casino for a little bit. We won some money. I think we only won like $1,500 at the casino.

“I just felt so useless because I was six months pregnant and there was nothing I could do," Peters told SASKTODAY about the attack in a phone interview in January.

During the young offender’s sentencing hearing in January, Schmidt had asked Justice MacMillan-Brown to lift the ban on publication, which she granted.  Three other people have already been sentenced in Gatzke’s murder and there was a ban on publication of the evidence until the last person went through the court system, which is the youth.

In June 2023, Jacob Ballantyne was sentenced to eight years after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was originally charged with second-degree murder. 

In February 2023, Isaac Melko was sentenced to 12 years. He was charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. 

In March 2022, Charles McLean pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to four years in prison.

RCMP found Gatzke in his home in the 100 block of 26 Street West in Battleford on Oct. 18, 2019. He was badly injured and taken to the North Battleford hospital by EMS where he was later declared deceased.

ljoy@glaciermedia.ca

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