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Crown seeks 7-9 year jail sentence for Vernon manslaughter of Kelowna woman

Paige Courtney Howse previously pleaded guilty of manslaughter in the death of Kelowna woman Alishia Lemp
Alishia Lemp (pictured) was killed in a Vernon hotel room in February 2020. Her killer, Paige Courtney Howse, will receive her manslaughter sentence Friday, May 31, 2024. (Facebook photo)

A woman who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after killing a Kelowna woman with a wine bottle in a Vernon hotel room could face a jail sentence of up to nine years.

Paige Courtney Howse, 30, was in BC Supreme Court in Vernon on Friday, May 17, for a sentencing hearing more than four years after she killed 33-year-old Alishia Lemp, on Feb. 27, 2020.

Howse was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in September 2023.

In an agreed statement of facts, Crown counsel Margaret Cissell told the court that Howse and Lemp had been friends, and both worked in the sex trade industry.

She said on the night of the killing, Lemp had purchased a 1.5 litre bottle of wine and brought it to room 206 at the Canada Best Value Inn and Suites on 32nd Street, where she and Howse were staying, after the two went on an outing to Lake City Casino.

“The wine bottle is believed to have been used by Ms. Howse to strike more than one blow, resulting in Ms. Lemp’s death in the morning hours of February 27, 2020,” Cissell said.

In the late hours of Feb. 26, Howse and Lemp are seen in security video returning to the hotel.

“This is the final time that Ms. Lemp is seen alive, as she enters room 206 and never exits,” Cissell told the court.

The court heard that other guests at the hotel heard “yelling and arguing” coming from the hotel room in the early morning hours of Feb. 27. One person reported that he heard banging sounds that lasted about three hours.

Later that morning, the Crown said a hotel guest was contacted by Howse on Facebook Messenger, saying “something bad happened, she and her friend got into a fight, and she didn’t think she was breathing.” The man told Howse to call 911. She did not, and instead asked him if he had any alcohol.

The man went to Howse’s room, but Howse refused to open the door for him. She asked him if he knew CPR; he did not. The man looked through the window of the room and saw a woman lying face down on the floor.

Howse was seen on CCTV video leaving the hotel room on the morning of Feb. 28. Cissell said this was the last time she was seen before being located and detained by police in Kelowna on March 1.

Later in the day on Feb. 28, two staff members entered the hotel room and discovered a trail of blood that led from the front door to the bathroom. They followed the blood trail to the bathroom, where they located Lemp’s body.

Police promptly attended the scene and found that Lemp’s body was already cold, and her fingers had turned grey. They observed that the hotel room was in complete disarray, with broken glass and computer parts strewn about, alcohol containers on the floor and the room’s TV face down on the bed.

“Hundreds” of blood spatter stains were found in the hotel room, Cissell told the court.

An autopsy found Lemp died of blunt force trauma to the head, and among her injuries were multiple fractures to her skull.

The Crown called for Howse to spend seven to nine years in jail while defence counsel Mark Swartz argued for a one to four year jail sentence less time served and followed by two years probation.

Swartz argued that it’s unclear exactly what happened in the hotel room on the night of Lemp’s death. He pointed to the fact that Howse ended up with two black eyes and broken nails, suggesting that Howse may have been trying to defend herself.

“I don’t think the court can come to any conclusions of who initiated it,” Swartz said.

Swartz continued, stating his client had an “unfortunate history,” adding she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He said Howse may have been experiencing a psychotic episode at the time of the incident.

Cissell, however, said she believed Howse’s schizophrenia was not a significant factor in the killing.

Cissell referred to Howse as a “poor historian,” saying her story of her past upbringing and relationships changed depending on who she was talking to. Cissell added Howse seemed to have difficulty with her memory, noting there were inconsistencies in terms of what she remembered and what she didn’t throughout the case, whether due to medications she is currently on or was on at the time of the killing.

Howse was supposed to appear to the sentencing in person, but Justice Ann Donegan said there was a “mix up,” and so she appeared by video instead. At the end of the sentencing hearing, Donegan gave Howse the chance to speak. Howse apologized for the “choices” she made, specifically her decision not to call 911.

Donegan reserved her judgement. Howse is to appear in Vernon court in person on Friday, May 31, for the Justice to give her decision.

READ MORE: Accused in Vernon motel manslaughter of Kelowna woman sentenced in May

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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