Murder conviction means 14 years without parole for Iverson

NANAIMO – Robert James Iverson convicted of 2010 second-degree murder of Cheryl Lynn Sim.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge handed down a life sentence with no eligibility for parole for 14 years for the murder a homeless Nanaimo woman.

Robert James Iverson, 49, was charged with the murder murder of Cheryl Lynn Sim after her body was found in shopping cart in a vacant lot near Barsby Park in June 2010. Iverson was convicted of second-degree murder in November. The conviction carries a punishment of life imprisonment with a minimum parole ineligibility of 10-25 years. During the sentencing hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday in Nanaimo, Crown counsel asked for a range of 15-20 years parole ineligibility.

Throughout the hearing, Iverson, who chose to represent himself throughout his trial, maintained his right to silence, refused to participate in the proceedings, turned his back to the court to stare at the wall of the court room and when Crown counsel placed copies of evidence next to him, Iverson dropped the documents on the floor.

“I would note that Mr. Iverson remains unresponsive and continues to face the back of the courtroom,” Judge Robert Punnet said after numerous attempts to address Iverson.

The lack of precedent in Canadian law left Punnet and Crown wrestling with the severity of sentence. A not-guilty plea and no counsel representing him has left a void of evidence regarding the motive behind the killing, Iverson’s state of mind and his intent.

Basil McCormick, who was on the Crown counsel team, said he is aware of rare cases where the accused refuses to participate, but has never personally experienced it.

“In my 22 years in the courtroom I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” McCormick said Tuesday.

Iverson is also banned from owning firearms and other types of weapons for life and must provide a DNA sample to the National DNA Data Bank.