Melanie Holdner says every time she sees a black truck, it reminds her of her brother’s murder.
Holdner was at Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench this week for the sentencing of Robert Jaymz McCamon and Kyle Jonathan Scott. The two men pleaded guilty in connection to the murder of A.J. Holdner, 25, who was found dead in his broken-down pick-up truck on July 11, 2013.
McCamon, 21, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Scott, also 21, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder and received a four-year sentence. However, he only has a year left to serve after getting a double-remand credit for time spent in custody.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Scott and A.J. were both from Young, Sask. and Scott was friends with McCamon. All three men had been living in A.J.’s truck in Saskatoon when it broke down where they would park to sleep just south of the city on July 10, 2013.
McCamon admitted hitting A.J. 15 times with a baseball bat while A.J. was under the hood trying to fix his truck. McCamon told police he was mad atA.J. for taking off with his belongings and “lost it.”
“I just got p—– off, you know this is the f—— heat of the moment sort of thing. I hit him once, I didn’t know what the f— to do, so I just kept hitting him,” he said after his arrest.
Scott then helped drag Holdner’s body into the back of the truck, which they abandoned on Circle Drive near 11th Street after it broke down a second time. Police found items belonging to both McCamon and Scott inside the truck and arrested the men four days later while they were walking along the Preston Crossing train tracks.
Holdner said her brother had a rare cognitive disorder that made him extremely trusting of people, despite any obvious warning signs.
“He was very loyal. He was adamant that Jaymz (Robert) and Kyle were his friends, and he would have gone to the ends of the earth for them. That’s one of those things that led to the situation,” she said.
A.J. was passionate about vehicles and loved animals. Christmas was his favorite holiday and even when he was angry, Holdner said he was always smiling.
But unlike her brother, Melanie said she hasn’t been able to trust people since he was killed. His murder has left her feeling alone and at times, guilty.
“A.J. and I had our differences and we would fight a lot. But it’s actually really hard because I always assumed he’d be there to fight with, and now all of a sudden he’s gone and you can’t say you’re sorry.”
She said it was somewhat of a relief to be able to say those things to her brother’s killer during her victim impact statement in court. But Holdner said she still struggles with the fact that the attack was unprovoked, and questions why McCamon continued to strike A.J. after the initial blow.
“If it had been one hit that was just a bad hit, that would have been one thing. It’s hard to think of someone you love being hit that many times with a bat and knowing that he might not have actually been killed until close to the end,” she said.
While she is satisfied with McCamon’s life sentence, Holdner believes it’s unfair that Scott was given extra credit for his time spent on remand. She points out that both men spent two years firing their lawyers and delaying the judicial process.
However, she was happy to hear strong words from Justice Richard Danyliuk when he handed down his sentence.
“It was really nice, as a family, for the judge to look at Kyle and Jaymz and say ‘what you did was cowardly and it was disgusting and it never should have happened.’ Just because, a lot of the times it feels like people don’t actually care.”