Matt Reeder is seen here with his child in a 2009 picture. Reeder was killed by Miles Halverson in downtown Nelson in 2018. Photo courtesy Ken Reeder

B.C. man gets 5 years behind bars for kicking death in Nelson

Miles Halverson had plead guilty to manslaughter in the 2018 death of Matt Reeder

A mid-day act of violence in downtown Nelson that led to a man’s death and a community demanding answers came to a resolution over two years later on Friday.

Miles Halverson was sentenced to five years and six months of jail time in Nelson’s Supreme Court after he plead guilty last September to manslaughter in the 2018 death of Matt Reeder.

Halverson, 55, has been in custody since his arrest on June 5, 2018, when he kicked Reeder in the head on Baker Street, Nelson’s main thoroughfare. Reeder died 30 hours later in a Kelowna hospital.

Deducting time served, Halverson has two years and three months left on his sentence.

In his decision, Justice David Crerar said Halverson was sober and conscious of the choice he was making to kick Reeder on the 600 block of Baker. Nelson police had already broken up a fight between the two men earlier in the day over a popular panhandling spot, and Halverson was incensed to find Reeder still at the location when he later returned.

Halverson, Crerar noted, was wearing steel-toed shoes at the time and likened the act to an assault. Crerar acknowledged Halverson’s remorse as genuine — Halverson wept as he apologized to the court Monday — but sided with the Crown request of five years in his final decision.

Crown counsel Rebecca Smyth said the sentence will bring closure to an act of violence that shocked the community.

“I would anticipate that people are very relieved to see this over because it has had a big impact on local people, including the street community in particular, and also the Nelson Police Department who put a lot of resources into this and worked really hard,” said Smyth.

“It’s nice to see it come to a conclusion where the appropriate evidence led to the appropriate result.”

The sentence falls within a typical range of four-to-six years for manslaughter cases. Crerar cited one case from the Court of Appeal that ended with a seven-year sentence, but also used several other decisions that were closer to the facts of the Halverson case to guide his decision.

Matt Reeder’s father Ken told the Star the verdict was what his family had advocated for to the Crown and defence counsels.

Ken Reeder said his family met with Barb Vincent of the Nelson Police Department’s Victim Services Unit and former officer Chris Duncan, who both suggested a collaboration with the Community Justice Initiatives Association based out of Langley. That organization worked to set up an April 14 video conference between family members and Halverson, who is being held at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver, B.C.

Reeder described Halverson as emotional, apologetic and remorseful in the meeting. The family’s request for five years of sentence, he said, was so Halverson can benefit from on-site rehabilitation services and forced sobriety.

“I suspect [it was] one of the important factors in the way the sentence was shaped in the sense that it was almost exactly what we were recommending,” said Reeder.

Crerar made reference to the family’s meeting with Halverson in his decision. He also referred to Halverson’s 43 previous convictions, many of which included assaults and breaches of conduct for failure to attend rehabilitation.

Although Halverson was sober when he assaulted Matt Reeder, Crerar said Halverson’s alcoholism and aggression are traits he downplayed following his arrest. Defence counsel Blair Suffredine had previously said Halverson was living on the street because of a domestic argument about alcohol.

Reeder was sitting against a wall and was under the influence of ethanol when Halverson spotted him from his bicycle, stopped and kicked him soccer-style once in the head. A pathology report found Reeder died due to an artery tear in his neck.

The death of Reeder stunned local residents, both its violence as well as when and where it occurred. Members of the city’s street community also mourned the 45-year-old Reeder, who was a talented musician and trained animator but had struggled from substance abuse.

Ken Reeder said his family took solace from knowing his son’s organs helped save four lives in the days after Matt’s death.

“If Miles can benefit in some way from the custody and the programming, that’s going to help us,” he said. “But I don’t believe in closure. I don’t think you ever get over the loss of a son.”

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The temporary public washroom located between 531 & 521 1st Avenue will soon be removed to begin construction on the permanent downtown public washroom facility. (Cole Schisler photo)
Construction on downtown public washroom to begin ‘before Christmas’

Council and staff discussed the possibility of a contest to determine the colour of the washroom

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Maya Norte restaurant on Roberts Street in Ladysmith. (Submitted photo)
Maya Norte teams up with Disaster Aid Canada to support Flooded Schools in Melaque

Starting this weekend Maya Norte will have a specialty Melaque Cocktail and Tapas available

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Photo: Facebook)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

Most Read