Melanie Patton says the loss of her only son, a Saskatchewan Mountie who was run over and killed more than two years ago, has left a void that can’t be filled.
She told a sentencing hearing Thursday that she has lost all joy.
"Nothing is the same. Our family has fallen apart," the mother told the judge in her victim impact statement.
“Gatherings are small and quiet, and I dread the holidays.”
Alphonse Stanley Traverse pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter and to a charge of stealing a motor vehicle. The Crown is seeking a life sentence and the defence has not yet made its arguments.
Patton, who was 26, had pulled over a suspected stolen truck in the town of Wolseley, east of Regina, in 2021.
Court heard the officer asked Traverse to step out of the truck and, when Traverse started the vehicle to drive off, Patton stepped on the running board and reached for the keys.
Patton fell when the truck jerked and was run over by a rear tire.
An agreed statement of facts said Traverse had been on warrant status for various offences.
He and a woman decided to drive from Winnipeg to play VLTs in Saskatchewan, as bars in Manitoba were still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When their truck broke down, they stole another near Pipestone, Man.
Traverse and the woman had also been using crystal meth, said the document.
Traverse sat in the prisoner's box with his head down and at times sniffled.
Loved ones, Mounties and friends who knew Patton delivered victim impact statements.
In her statement, Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of Saskatchewan RCMP, told court she remembers telling Patton’s wife he was killed.
“She knew something was terribly wrong. However, when I delivered the news Shelby was gone, I watched her entire world collapse," Blackmore said.
"I've done numerous next-of-kin notifications during my 28-year policing career, and they are all difficult and tragic for the family receiving the news that their loved one has passed away.
"But this was different for me. This was so much more personal. There was a young man who was called out to try and apprehend the individuals responsible for stealing the vehicle, doing exactly what he always did as a professional."
Prosecutor Adam Breker read a victim impact statement on behalf of Mari Grobler, who was Patton's wife.
Grobler wrote she remains fearful of the sound of vehicles and has had a hard time leaving the house.
The submission says she drifts in and out of depression and couldn't restart her own personal training business.
"The depression and anxiety of losing Shelby has caused intense chest pains," she wrote.
"I see a psychologist biweekly and I expect that I will have to do so for many years to come."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2024.