Hamilton

Hamilton judge to sentence man who accidentally shot and killed 17-year-old girlfriend

A Hamilton judge will decide how much punishment is enough for a man who was playing with a pistol during a house party and accidentally shot Myah Larmond — his 17-year-old girlfriend.

Devante Skye-Davis shot Myah Larmond while playing with a gun and pointing it at her in 2020

A woman sitting.
Myah Larmond, 17, was killed after her boyfriend accidentally shot her while playing with a gun and pointing it at her. (Hamilton police)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details, including mention of sexual abuse and suicide, and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​it or know someone affected by it.

A Hamilton judge will decide how much punishment is enough for a man who was playing with a pistol during a house party and accidentally shot and killed Myah Larmond, his 17-year-old girlfriend.

Sobs filled Room 708 in the John Sopinka Courthouse on Tuesday during Devante Skye-Davis's sentencing hearing.

Skye-Davis previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm.

"If there was any way I could bring her back, I would do that in a heartbeat," the 25-year-old said, calling Larmond his "soulmate," while his family and Larmond's family listened on.

Crown attorney Amy Mountjoy and assistant Crown attorney Jody Ostapiw told Justice Paul Sweeny the sentence should be six years.

Skye-Davis' lawyer, Jordana Goldlist, argued he should be sentenced to the mandatory minimum of four years.

While Skye-Davis will return to court on July 18 to hear his fate, the court heard Tuesday the considerations that will inform the sentencing decision. 

The night of the shooting

Court heard Skye-Davis, 21 at the time, and Larmond were at a house party on St. Matthews Avenue near downtown Hamilton on July 15, 2020.

They were all drinking, doing drugs and socializing, Mountjoy said.

Another man at the party, Cadence Beauparlant, brought a pistol to the party.

People passed it around and played with it. Videos presented in court showed Beauparlant and Skye-Davis holding the gun, and loading it with a magazine that had a single bullet in the chamber.

Later in the night, Skye-Davis held the gun, walked into the kitchen and pointed the Glock at Larmond — then he accidentally fired a bullet into her head around 4 a.m., on July 16.

Beauparlant left the house and took the gun with him. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to the unauthorized possession of a loaded firearm. His lawyer is appealing, saying the sentence is too long.

Skye-Davis stayed with Larmond, trying to keep her alive.

A chaotic scene full of screaming could be heard in a recording of the 911 call played during Skye-Davis's sentencing hearing.

During the call, Skye-Davis said he didn't know who shot Larmond and didn't see what happened. In police interviews, he said he was worried if he spoke to officers, he would get in trouble.

He also denied any involvement during those interviews, but eventually pleaded guilty during the court proceedings.

During those interviews, Larmond was on an operating table, spending her final moments with surgeons trying to save her. She died five hours after Skye-Davis shot her.

Mountjoy said Skye-Davis's negligence, the pistol and the drug-and-alcohol-fuelled party was a lethal combination.

"This was an entirely avoidable tragedy … that must be denounced," she said.

Skye-Davis had abusive upbringing

Skye-Davis wore a grey suit and was emotional in court, crying at some points while bent over and holding his head in his hands.

Mountjoy said Skye-Davis tried to kill himself after the incident.

He is Indigenous, which will be considered during sentencing. Mountjoy also said he grew up in a "hectic" household where he was physically and sexually abused. He was also exposed to addiction and promiscuous behaviour, court heard.

He also had a lengthy criminal record with mostly minor offences, and previously served time behind bars for an assault against an intimate partner in 2018. Skye-Davis was unfamiliar with guns but was banned from using them when he shot Larmond.

He's also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder, Mountjoy said. For a while, he was self-medicating with street drugs, but is now using proper medication.

A police car on a street with crime scene tape.
The shooting happened on St. Matthews Avenue near Barton Street. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Goldlist, Skye-Davis's lawyer, said he was foolish, careless and reckless with the gun, but she emphasized he didn't bring the gun to the party.

She also highlighted how Skye-Davis didn't abandon Larmond at the house like many others and called police right away, despite being "hysterical" and intoxicated.

"He did all he could to save her," Goldlist said. "Devante is among those who feel that loss."

Goldlist said he isn't a "lost cause" and isn't a "violent predator" despite his rough childhood.

His future goals are to become a social worker or be a motivational speaker who can help others avoid gun violence, she said.

Larmond family left with 'shattered' hearts

Speaking in court, Skye-Davis expressed remorse and said Myah was the "love of my life."

"I took the life of someone who had more life to live," he said. "I have to live with what I did for the rest of my life."

He added he hoped her family might forgive him some day and the incident was a "wake-up call."

Skye-Davis' family sat on the left side of the courtroom and Larmond's family sat on the opposite side.

Assistant Crown attorney Ostapiw read victim impact statements submitted by Larmond's parents, siblings and other family members.

In her statement, Christine Gramada, Larmond's mother, said her life has been "shattered" and her daughter's future was swiped away.

"Myah's loss has crushed my soul," the court heard.

"To carry on my life without her is my biggest struggle. I know I will never be the same.

"My daughter was a good person, loved and valued by her family, and her loss is irreplaceable."

While some statements directed anger at Skye-Davis, Gramada's words had a different tone.

"Devante, I hope you take advantage of every opportunity offered to you, that will strengthen your life path and become the best version of yourself," her statement said.

"I wish you well."


If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, here's where to get help:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.