By Farnia Fekri
Days before the sixth anniversary of Ryerson grad Christopher Skinner’s death, the driver of the car that ran him over was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.
On Oct. 5, Judge McMahon ended the trial of Agustin Caruso, 23, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2009 death of Skinner.
In the early hours of Oct. 18, 2009, an intoxicated 27-year-old Skinner tried to hail a cab in Toronto’s Entertainment District before getting into an altercation with the passengers of Caruso’s car, the court heard.
Several men including Caruso, then 19, got out of the car and beat Skinner senseless, the judge recounted. Drunk and drugged, Caruso then got behind the wheel of the car and ran Skinner over.
“Mr. Caruso did not deliberately run over Mr. Skinner,” the judge said at the hearing. “But he admits that when he entered his vehicle, Mr. Skinner was lying in the roadway somewhere in the vicinity of the car.”
After Caruso and five other passengers left the scene, Skinner was taken to the hospital but died later that day.
“I am sure there is not a person in this courtroom today who does not wish they could go back and redo the events of October 18, 2009,” the judge said, adding that “not one of the six individuals had the moral decency to come forward and do the right thing.”
The turning point of the investigation came in February 2013, after the police received a tip from B.C. that allowed them to zero in on Caruso and the other passengers. By November of that year, they had arrested Caruso.
In the courtroom on Monday, Caruso delivered an apology to the victim’s family.
“I take responsibility for my action and lack of action,” he said. “There are many things I regret.”
Christopher’s sister, Taryn Skinner, said she is “still not satisfied” after the trial.
“I think that his lawyer wrote a very good apology statement to deliver to the family. I do think that his emotions are real and his feelings are real. It just didn’t feel like it was his own words,” she said. “I was glad that he would look us in the eye. I thought he would be a bit more of a coward.”
The judge admitted that though the sentence for aggravated manslaughter ranges from 8-12 years, the sentence was shortened by several factors: the young age of Caruso at the time, the altercation not being pre-planned, Caruso’s judgement being impaired, his not having a criminal record prior to that day, his positive steps since the admission of his crime such as support for drug and alcohol addiction, pre-trial custody and his cooperation with the court given his plea.
Three other people are currently facing charges, two for assault causing bodily harm and another for obstruction of justice.
Det. Sgt. Stacy Gallant said after the trial that the case will never be over for the Skinner family.
“Their son is still dead and he’ll remain that way,” he said.
During his sentencing, the judge summarized the impact of that morning by quoting Christopher’s dad, Warren Skinner: “The “too manys” are long: too many sleepless nights, too many tears, too many angry moments, too many interviews, too many what ifs.”
With files from Jake Scott and Ramisha Farooq